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Denver Flea, Vol. 2: Artisan Flea Market Coming to Sustainability Park

The Denver Flea held its inaugural event in May, with another event coming up on Sept. 20.

Founder Blake Adams wanted to create a market that's both highbrow and interactive.

The second Denver Flea will take place Sat. Sept. 20, from noon to 6 p.m at Sustainability Park, 26th Avenue and Lawrence Street.

The first Flea had a crowd of about 10,000 came through -- 6,500 of which RSVPed ahead of time for the free beer that came with the reservation.

The Denver Flea's first market was a huge success. It's no shocker that it's coming back for a reprise on Sept. 20, 2014, at Sustainability Park near Five Points.
Denver enjoys its outdoor festivals. Nearly every weekend, the city's parks teem with patrons strolling under white canopy tents housing handmade art and wares. Our festival-loving city received a new market this year: The Denver Flea, which held its inaugural event in May, with  another event coming up on Sept. 20. 

To the naked eye, the Denver Flea might appear to be the same old market, but this brainchild of Blake Adams touts itself as one of a kind.

Adams describes the Flea, which came to life with the help of event-planning gurus at Imbibe Denver, as a curated artisan market inspired by flea markets in Philadelphia and Brooklyn.

"It is a flea market, [but] we're not the traditional market," says Adams, who is the founder of OneWall Project, an organization that brings art installations to the public. "It's not a handmade market, and it's not people bringing stuff from their garage."

Despite, or maybe because of, the number of art markets in Denver, Adams wanted to create a market that's both highbrow and interactive. "This was a key for why it was such a success, because my goal was to keep it as highly curated as possible -- there are a lot of other markets out there," he says. "Patrons got to come in and find people that were really making quality product and be able to engage with them and learn about them and their products."

An insane but curious crowd

The Flea's first foray into the market scene, this May, was successful -- too successful, really, as the small space in City Park had lines of wannabe guests out and around the fenced outdoor marketplace. A crowd of about 10,000 came through -- 6,500 of which RSVPed ahead of time for the free beer that came with the reservation.

"We got there and set up and thought, 'Well, this feels like any other event,' but then the insane crowd started coming," says Tanya Fleisher of Winter Session, which handcrafts leather goods in Five Points. "The people that showed up were really patient and curious and receptive and friendly even though there were lines of people and you'd expect otherwise. Whoever they managed to attract, we thought they were really good people."

Same went for their fellow vendors. "The vibe of the other vendors was very much in line with what we were doing, so it felt like a really good fit for us," says Mark Johnson, Co-Founder of Knotty Tie Co., maker of funky ties in the Art District on Santa Fe. "People were really excited about the vendors they were finding and taking that energy booth to booth." 

The lines weren't a problem for Adams, either, who was delighted by the crowd. "I'd rather err there on the side of there being too long of lines than there being no lines at all," he says. But he recognized changes were needed for the next one. There will be more volunteers working and beer and food vendors (there is still a free beer with an RSVP), plus they've teamed up with another new outdoor market in The Big Wonderful. The Flea will include its beer, food and artisans vendors (including both Winter Session and Knotty Tie, as well as The Real Dill, Azure Furniture and others), plus have the features of The Big Wonderful: cornhole boards, sand volleyball, a dog park and live music.

The second Denver Flea will take place Sat. Sept. 20, from noon to 6 p.m at Sustainability Park, 26th Avenue and Lawrence Street.

Read more articles by Kristin Pazulski.

Kristin Pazulski is a Philadelphia native, a Los Angeles escapee and a Colorado transplant. Professionally, she's been a writer, marketer, editor, manager, espresso slinger, ice cream sandwich maker, event planner and more.
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