With live music in the air, outdoor games, food trucks, a stilt walker and a variety of artisans selling their wares, NE Denver played host for the first time to The Big Wonderful on Sat., May 21. The 3-acre field to the west of Stanley Marketplace served as the site for the event.
Stanley Marketplace, a former ejection seat manufacturing facility, was inspired by New York’s Chelsea Market and San Francisco’s Ferry Building. The mobile Big Wonderful event first started in Denver’s River North neighborhood in 2014.
People entered the carnival-like venue from Aurora, to the north, and Stapleton on its south side. Bicycles lined the fence at the entrance near Beeler St. and E. 26th Ave. with many attendees arriving on foot. The parking lot at Clinton St. and E. 23rd Ave. on the Aurora side of the Stanley, which holds up to 500 cars, contributed to the reasons festival organizers chose the convenient location.
“This first time out went terrifically,” said Big Wonderful founder Josh Sampson. “We’re looking forward to working it up over the course of the summer.” Sampson estimated that more than 3,000 people attended the event’s Stanley debut.
The relaxed urban festival occurs at five locations including Stapleton/Aurora, Littleton, the 16th Street Mall, RiNo and a spot near Sports Authority Field.
“We signed up for a bunch of these and are basing it all on how well they do,” said Travis Gilbert, owner of Tonix, a south Denver company that sells craft cocktail syrup. “This is a really nice spot in general. I’m planning on opening a kiosk here at the Stanley Marketplace when it opens in the fall.”
Festival organizers covered the ground at Stanley with wood chips to mitigate dust and pointed stage speakers away from the nearby residences along Beeler Street.
“It’s hard to find stuff like this where we live,” said Laurie Dolan, who drove up from the Tech Center with her two-year-old daughter. “It can be a challenge to find something that we both like and it’s a great concept. We’ll definitely be coming back.”
The Big Wonderful at Stanley occurs on the first and third Saturdays of the month through Sept. 3 from 12–8 pm. Tickets (which include a free beer or soda) are $5 in advance online at TheBigWonderful.com and $7 dollars at the event. VIP tickets are $15/$18. Children aged 12 and under are free.