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New Denver festival celebrates psychedelic culture with music, art and 'shroom gifting

DENVER — A new event coming to the Mile High City aims to celebrate psychedelic culture, and it’s doing so by trading educational panels and lectures for live music, food trucks and art vendors.


On June 9, the inaugural Denver Shroom Fest comes to ReelWorks (1399 35th St., Denver) in the River North Arts District for a daylong party. According to co-founders Jonathan Cherkoss and Eric Burden, the event’s goal is simple: To have some fun.


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While there are a plethora of conferences and trade shows dedicated to psychedelics, the organizers see an opportunity to bring local psychonauts together to enjoy entertainment without the pressure of notetaking or networking.


“It’s been very focused on investors, venture capital, businesses that don’t exist yet. There are B2B conferences, yet there are businesses that aren’t allowed to operate,” Cherkoss said.


Denver Shroom Fest hopes to entice the underserved scene of casual enthusiasts. And at $55 for early bird tickets, it will also be more affordable than conferences, which can run a couple hundred dollars to several thousand dollars for a pass, Burden added.


“With some previous (events), some people felt excluded who were a big part of the community and simply couldn’t afford a ridiculous ticket,” Burden said. “Also a lot of them have been relatively low on the entertainment side ... having something entertainment-based will bring the fun of it out.”


Cherkoss and Burden are currently courting local musicians, as well as sponsors and artisans who want to set up a vendor village at the venue. They hope to announce the lineup by the end of March. The festival will also include food trucks, a bar and possibly some interactive art.


For those who attended Psychedelic Science last year, Cherkoss likened the vibe he’s going for to the conference’s Deep Space attraction, which featured live music, large-scale artworks, a tea house and more. Denver Shroom Fest is expected to return around the same time as Psychedelic Science in 2025, he added.


Stage production will be paramount to the Shroom Fest experience, the organizers said, as will staying within the legal bounds of decriminalization. Fans of psilocybin mushrooms are encouraged to attend, but they are not permitted to consume onsite, Cherkoss said.


However, he expects there to be gifting or trading of substances, and supplies like mushroom grow kits will be available for sale. (Burden is also the founder of Denver Spore Company.) That’s why Denver Shroom Fest is a 21-and-up affair.


After attending other psychedelic-focused events around the country, the duo hopes this one stands out for its “focus on the people and the culture and just having fun within what we’re allowed to do,” Cherkoss said.


“Within staying with the law,” Burden emphasized.


Denver Shroom Fest runs noon to 10 p.m. on Sunday, June 9. Tickets are now on sale for $55 at denvershroomfest.com. On April 1, the price increases to $65.

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