When the City Council formed the Greeley Creative District (GCD) in January 2012, the primary goal was to catalog and illuminate the concentration of ‘creative industries’ within the community. The District offered a boundary, an area enveloping the Downtown and University neighborhoods, where the concentration of businesses, events, activities and ‘creatives’ is greatest. All the better to market creative engagement opportunities to the community and region.
The State of Colorado’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade, thanks to special legislation, offered communities the chance to be officially designated as Creative Districts as part of the Colorado Creatives Industry program. Greeley wasted no time in submitting its application and was among the first 12 communities to be welcomed into that inaugural program, competing with 44 communities and 25 counties for that coveted designation. To date, there are only 18 Colorado communities that carry that status, including Greeley.
Since then, the GCD has formed its own non-profit board with 17 community members; been recognized with several awards for its achievements and innovation; supports, tracks, and promotes creative community engagement across a wide field of arts and innovation; and hosts several of its own special events. Events have ranged from workshops and networking for artists to community-wide experiences, including a successful attempt at a Guinness World Record in 2015, which created the world’s longest continuous chalk art drawing at 3.55 miles, involving 3,560 community participants who created 2,600 drawings using 76,000 sticks of chalk
Another event, the Annual AgriCulture Fest and Feast, focuses on the Art of Agriculture. “Agriculture is our DNA heritage,” notes Becky Safarik, President of the Greeley Creative District Board. “We want to engage the community in an event that celebrates those roots, educates the process of getting food from field to plate, and share the world of agricultural creativity, from culinary arts to innovation in farming and ranching, to the crafts and creations distinctive to this part of our culture.”
Now in its 4th year, the AgriCulture Fest is a day-long experience that centers on the Greeley Farmers’ Market adding exhibits, demonstrations, entertainment, tastings and hands-on experiences for visitors to the event. In the evening, the Feast gets underway with a plated dinner prepared by local chefs who donate their talents to create enticing meal courses using foods produced locally. The dinner event features locally produced brews and spirits, musical entertainment, exhibits, and a silent auction all in a comfortable, friendly, and informal setting. The dinner event is also one of the GCD’s anchor fundraisers. The event, which can accommodate approximately 350, has sold out each year — evidence to the GCD that the Art of AgriCulture is special, engaging and an essential component of our local way of life.
The GCD invites ideas, volunteers, artists and other creatives to engage and experience the community in a variety of activities. For more information about the Greeley Creative District and to view its many undertakings go to greeleycreativedistrict.org.
ECONOMIC NOTE: The Greeley Creative District tracks participation at 80 annual events in the District recording 640,591 in attendance and sales tax of $2,328,718 in 2016.