Monday, August 12, 2013

Things to do in Denver When You're Gay: The Denver Burger Battle and Denver County Fair

By Londell Jackson

I have often been quite proud of my Colorado native status. The few years I spent away from my home state had me longing for our majestic Rocky Mountains, our brilliant sunsets, and everything else which can be found right in our own backyard. I've seen our state, and most importantly, my home city -- Denver -- grow and mature. Recently, there has been an explosion of awesomely fun activities for just about anyone. And the past four days have been a prime example of what Denver has to offer.

August 8th brought us the fourth year of the Denver Burger Battle (DBB). There are few things which I really look forward to as I grow into my middle aged-ness, but the DBB is sorta like my Christmas. 12 of Denver's top burger joints lay their meat on the table to be judged by some of Colorado's nationally recognized chefs. But the judges don't get to have the last word about who has the best burger: the 1,000+ participants cast their vote for the People's Choice award. For the past four years, the DBB has hosted sellout crowds for this competition, and the demand only increases each year.

This year, the event was held in Sculpture Park (you know, the park at the Performing Arts Complex where the giant dancing aliens are, I know, I didn't know it had a name either!), and was expected to host close to 1,200 burger munchers. And like years previous, the performances of the chefs from the various restaurants did not disappoint. If you've been, you know exactly what I'm talking about, if you haven't, well, what the heck have you been waiting for??! I know, $69 or $95 is a lot of change for some hamburgers, but it's worth it. For two hours, you have access to an unlimited stream of gourmet burgers, continuously flowing beer, (did you get that, UNLIMITED BEER), some sweet treats, and a nice little goodie bag to take home. This year we saw the addition of lawn games like Corn Hole and Lawn Jenga (I've gotta get me one of those).

The first year John and I attended the DBB, we purchased General Admission tickets and the event was held at Union Station. It took us about 90 minutes to make one complete round. This year as well as the previous year, we spent the extra money for the VIP pass, if only to get in an hour early, and boy, what a difference an hour makes. Within 45 minutes we had tried every burger entry, and had more than our share of the specialty cocktails, which were provided by Breckenridge Distillery: a kick ass bourbon cocktail, and a wickedly smooth vodka drink, and were only available to VIPs during the first hour of the DBB. In addition, this year's VIPs received a $50 credit for a car service: UBER, which allowed us to party without inhibition. I will say, UBER was awesome: much more convenient than a taxi, with the luxury of a private sedan (or SUV should you choose one), and you can call for a pickup through their app and watch the car as it travels to get you. I want to give a shout out to our drivers: DJ and Sean, you both, respectively, started and ended our evening in style! So, if you missed this year's battle, get yourself on the mailing list, 'cause tickets - especially VIP tickets - go fast!

August 9 - 11 brought us the third annual Denver County Fair. WHY DIDN'T WE HAVE THIS WHEN I WAS A KID!?!?!? Oh my gosh is this a good time! This event, which is held at the National Western Complex, caters to folks of all ages, and there is something for everyone. John and I found ourselves entertained by and enjoying the dog agility contests, the various farm share vendors like Door to Door Organics and MM Local, the familiar and not so familiar barnyard critters, a pie eating contest, and even a freak show. Yep, I said it, A FREAK SHOW! We caught the tail-end of this performance which entailed the audience stapling dollar bills to the "ring leader". Depending on the amount of the bill you could staple it to his chest, back, stomach, or head. I had to leave shortly after witnessing this stunt. I also participated in a tattoo contest, of which I did not win. At the risk of sounding like a poor loser, some dude with a tat of a tire tread won, … grrr. Those of us who had substantial artwork on our bodies for display ground our teeth to a fine powder as he accepted his blue ribbon. Next year, I'm bringing my own cheering session as that dude did. But I digress.

And just as there were lots of things to do, what is a fair without food!? While there were the standards available like corn dogs and hamburgers, there were quite a few novelties to from which to choose. A cart marketing Twizzler Space Foam caught my eye. Created by The Inventing Room, these frozen by liquid nitrogen treats were quite scrumptious. John indulged in the Exploding Root Beer Float which really did explode in his face (OK, more like pop).

Oh, there's one last thing, which I can't fail to mention: big wheels,...FOR ADULTS!!! In support of Craig Hospital, High Roller offered free big wheel rides for folks 18 years old and over. Each rider was allowed two laps around an inside track and you could choose to race someone or just take a fun little ride. I have never seen so many grown folks enjoy reliving their childhoods on giant tricycles. I chose to race John and lost! LOL!!! Alas, I was not a total loser, however, I did win this lovely beast of a plastic chicken, and I have to say, I've always wanted a plastic chicken. They are great stress relievers: you can choke it and slap it around with little regard to, well, anything! As for this fair, you will see us there next year.

So, it appears our fine city is coming of age. Once known as a cowtown, Denver continues to offer its residents and visitors opportunities to eat 'till your heart's content, and encourages us all to take some time to let our hair down to have a little fun. Regardless of your age and expectation, you're bound to find something in this wonderful city of ours!