Denver Day

Fans cheers as Eldren performs during Denver Day of Rock Saturday, May 27, 2017 on Curtis and 16th streets. The free music festival features 25 bands performing on five music stages and benefits AMP The Cause, a nonprofit that supports 50 child-focused health and education organizations. (Daniel Brenner, Special to the Denver Post)

Rain dampened downtown Denver’s streets but not its spirits Saturday evening, as an eclectic mix of bands and an energy driven by charity shook off the gloom for the eighth annual Denver Day of Rock festival.

Organizers expected about 100,000 people to listen to bands or sample from food trucks spread out along the 16th Street Mall. The concerts were free to listen to, but proceeds from food and drinks plus any added donations went to the event’s organizer, a nonprofit organization called Amp the Cause that provides grants and assistance to more than 50 charities that benefit children in the Denver area. Recipients have included Children’s Hospital Colorado and the Tennyson Center for Children, among many others.

Amp the Cause hoped to raise $250,000 this year, making the festival its largest fund-raiser of the year.

“It’s a chance to bring the community together and shed some light on the work the nonprofits are doing,” said Keri Kallaway, Amp the Cause’s executive director.

And if a few raindrops fall on that community, as they did Saturday?

“We’ve had bad weather before and it just doesn’t seem to turn people away,” Kallaway said.

Indeed, crowds thronged 16th Street Mall, moving between stages set about every other block. There were country bands, blues, roots, zydeco. The Mary Louis Lee Band, the group fronted by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s wife, played a set.

Toddlers rocked out. Dads shimmied in dad jeans. Moms bobbed along from beneath Gore-Tex hoods.

“This is really all about the kids today,” local DJ Chuck St. John, serving as an emcee at one stage, shouted out to the crowd.

And Stephanie Welsh, the executive director of the Resource Area for Teaching, was on hand to assure that that was in fact the case.

Welsh’s group, also known as RAFT, provides steeply discounted educational supplies to teachers, who otherwise might have to pay much more out of pocket to get the classroom materials they need. The organization benefits from Amp the Cause’s support. But, as she smiled amid the sprinkles Saturday, Welsh was thinking more about the Day of Rock festival’s broader significance for the city.

“Everybody can come out and participate,” she said. “And then if you want to contribute to charity, you can do that. But if not, you can still be a part of this community.”

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