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Rhythm at Roosevelt draws a crowd

The festival remains a celebration of arts, music and culture, and one of the town’s signature events.
Rhythm at Roosevelt

Local residents have for years flocked to Roger’s Grove in celebration of summer and community spirit at Longmont’s Rhythm on the River festival. This year, the event marked its silver anniversary in a new, more accessible location and with a brand-new name — Rhythm at Roosevelt.

The lawn under big, shady trees of Roosevelt Park gave visitors plenty of space to stretch out in cooler weather at what has become Longmont’s largest summer event. The festival used to be held every July, but with the move to a new venue came a new date, replacing the hottest days of summer with the refreshingly mild temperatures of September. Yet despite the changes, Rhythm at Roosevelt maintained the familiar feel which first created the beloved celebration of arts and music.

Steve Harris found a comfortable spot under an elm tree, where he planted his camp chair and enjoyed a beer from 303 Suns Brewery. 

“I think it’s much nicer to hold this event this time of year. The parking was easier, too, although my mother struggled because there was no handicapped access near the handicapped parking. They’ll need to work out some small details like that, but it really is a nice change.” 

Most people seemed to agree, and the crowds only grew bigger into the evening.

Rhythm at Roosevelt. Rebecca Furuta

On one end of the park, you could hear the laughter of children working their way through the maze of inflatable obstacle courses. On the other, the smell of kettle corn moved through the air near the beer garden. Between them, people flocked to tables and laid blankets on the grass to listen to a diverse line up of musicians. Rhythm at Roosevelt is one way to roll out the welcome mat to local families and celebrate those things which make Longmont unique.

The festival offered a marketplace featuring local artisans selling a variety of wares. Rows of handcrafted jewelry, sandalwood scented soaps made from goat’s milk, embroidered purses and handmade pottery with vibrant glazes were displayed under tents where visitors sniffed, sampled and touched the various goods.

Rhythm at Roosevelt. Rebecca Furuta

Food trucks and local restaurants offered a unique selection from some of the community’s best eateries. Smaller servings of the different establishment’s dishes gave festival-goers the opportunity to sample everything from crispy vegetarian noodles to smoked meats and buttery pastries that melted into a sweet custard on the tongue.

There’s more to Rhythm at Roosevelt than festival fare, however. The event offered exceptional performances from local groups and live music from a diverse range of performers, spanning everything from indie rock to funk and soul. The carefully curated line-up highlighted both local and regional artists.

Free live music kicked off at 2 p.m. with the Gabriel Mervine Quartet, and the sounds of an optimistic horn playing soul-jazz and funk tunes hung in the afternoon air. An hour later, the mood shifted when 2MX2 took to the stage with a blend of pop, hip hop and modern versions of traditional Latin music.

This year, Rhythm at Roosevelt fell on Mexican Independence Day, and the city aimed to include elements of Mexican heritage throughout the festival. 2MX2 offered listeners dance-worthy beats, sometimes paired with politically charged protest lyrics and songs that tackled tough topics like immigration and education reform. 

They were followed by the group Danza Folklorico Monarca, a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of Mexican folk dancing. The eight members of the group drew large crowds each time they took to the stage, and they were eager to talk to the audience about their passion for dance.

By 5 p.m., the venue became an all-out funk music dance party thanks to the band B-Love out of Boulder, and toward the end of the evening, Tierro Band with Bridget Law performed their eclectic brand of bluegrass and gypsy jazz. The music wrapped up with the well-known band Wash Park. Hailing from Denver, the group is known for high-energy performances and the ability to cover everything from 1970s dance hits to modern top-40 songs.

Despite all the new elements to the festival, it remains a celebration of arts, music and culture, and one of the town’s signature events. Mostly, Rhythm at Roosevelt provides an opportunity for community connectedness and celebration. It is a chance for people to let loose, dance like crazy, talk with their neighbors and strengthen relationships between individuals and the city.