Viking up for UllrGrass

Parfet Park will be the hub for the festival, which returns Jan. 24-26


Colorado is home to no shortage of bluegrass and beer festivals. But while most of those events embrace the warmth and festiveness of lazy summer afternoons and nights, there’s only one local event that invites its attendees to dress like vikings, horns and all, and dance around outside in the dead of winter — UllrGrass.

That event, has become a community staple that embodies a quirky and fun-loving side off Golden since its debut five years ago. It returns to Golden’s Parfet Park, Jan. 24-26.

Though UllrGrass will again boast some of the state and nation’s top breweries and blue grass performers, including an all-star collaboration between members of Centennial state heavyweights Leftover Salmon and the Yonder Mountain String Band, the festival will look and feel somewhat different this year thanks to organizer’s decision to no longer hold performances at the Buffalo Rose.

“I am excited really about a one-site party,” said Chris Thompson, who founded the festival with his wife, Susannah. “I think it will be good for the attendees because everything will be in one spot and it will be easy to understand where everything is.”

In addition to the UllrGrass All Stars collaboration on the main stage from 9-10:30 p.m. on the Saturday of the festival, other highlights will include a performance by four-piece Fort Collins-based string band Head for the Hills on Friday night and Julian Davis and the Situation, a bluegrass guitarist and singer from Kansas. Of course, there will also be staples like the Viking costume contest at 4 p.m. on Saturday and a bluegrass band contest on the Thursday before the festival at Golden’s New Terrain Brewing Company.

The winners of last year’s contest, The High Road Home, will perform at this year’s festival at 11:45 a.m. on Saturday. Tad Smith, who plays a resonator guitar called the dobro in the band, says the band, based in Boulder County, plays a non-traditional bluegrass sound with strong elements of Americana music.

“People should expect to see a high energy set and one that sounds a bit like bluegrass but not your grandfather’s bluegrass,” Smith said.

Also returning to the festival are the Cody Sisters, a family band consisting of teenage sisters Megan and Maddie Cody and their father, Steve. The experience of playing in a family band has been a special one for the family, Megan and Maddie said.

“I feel like a lot of kids already get annoyed their parents just because it’s kind of a teenager thing to do but playing music really brings us together and it’s so much fun to play with him on stage,” Megan said. “When we watch videos of our performances we see our dad behind us having the best time and it’s so awesome we get to do that together.”

Though performers come from around Colorado and even beyond it, Chris said one of the most special aspects of UllrGrass is that it remains, ultimately, a community event.

“We certainly draw an audience from Denver and Boulder but this event exists because of and for the Golden community,” he said. “And it’s pretty special because it’s not just a music festival, it’s an opportunity for the residents of Golden to come out and spend some time together in town at a time when people are usually holed up inside or off skiing.”


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