Clayton Community Days are taking over first Saturdays in the neighborhood with art, music and community

The outdoor party series will continue through September.
5 min. read
York Street Yards and the 39th Avenue Greenway. June 16, 2023.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Victor Ngo-Smith wanted to create a local concert series.

He would find local musicians and give them a space to perform, while also providing local community members a taste of great tunes.

He’s the founder of New Cottage Arts, a music and arts nonprofit that provides group and private lessons at discounted prices. (He’s also a classically trained musician, so it’s an on-brand endeavor.)

Ngo-Smith also wanted to support his neighborhood of Clayton.

He’s lived in the area since 2016. Ngo-Smith knows the small businesses around the blocks and adores the greenspaces. He just wanted to bring something fun and community-based to life.

Now, he's found a way to do both.

New Cottage Arts founder Victor Ngo-Smith plays a piano in his nonprofit's studio at York Street Yards in Denver's Clayton neighborhood. May 30, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Introducing: Clayton Community Days

Clayton Community Days is a first-Saturday outdoor party series filled with music, art, food and community.

They’ve had events in April and May, and their next celebration will be on Saturday, June 1, within the York Street Yards complex at 3840 York St.

The party will be at York Street Yards complex (3840 York St.) in the outdoor courtyard outside Cohesion Brewing Company.

“I've been wanting to bring something to our neighborhood … that kind of accentuated and brought people out into our public spaces,” Ngo-Smith said. “We have so much to showcase … in the neighborhood and the [surrounding] neighborhoods … the event puts Clayton on the map and brings visibility to the organizations here and the small businesses.”

Ngo-Smith said the idea began to come to fruition when he discovered the Neighborhood Activation Program through the Denver Economic Development & Opportunity office.

The program distributes grants to neighborhood groups, nonprofits and businesses for events that “reactivate neighborhood and business corridors.” Think the East Colfax Storywalk and the Sun Valley Night Market.

New Cottage Arts founder Victor Ngo-Smith plays a piano in his nonprofit's studio at York Street Yards in Denver's Clayton neighborhood. May 30, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

From there, Ngo-Smith also reached out to some Lighthouse Writers Workshop and Denver Food Rescue to become partners in the project, both of whom agreed.

So, Clayton Community Days was born.

“The inspiration was to create a series that’s for all ages, family-friendly, everybody’s welcome, its free admission and supports small businesses in the area,” Ngo-Smith said. “Many of the businesses are women-owned, minority-owned, super local. And there’s awesome music. A huge range.”

The event kicked off in April, and participation has grown.

More people are starting to learn about the event series and attend, Ngo-Smith said. (The weather getting nicer doesn't hurt either.)

Each event will be the first Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. and follow a similar mix of art, music and block-party vibes.

Urban Sanctuary kicks off the festivities with all-ages community yoga. Participants should bring their own mats.

Lighthouse Writers Workshop will also host a session each Saturday with a different writer. This Saturday will feature Tawanna LaTrice Hill, who will discuss “themes of home, community, memory, and storytelling.”

The green at York Street Yards in Denver's Clayton neighborhood. May 30, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

For June 1 specifically, DJ Bugs Honey will mix tunes from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. There will also be music performances from the Nico Martinez Trio and Brothers of Brass.

On the art side, Charlo will host a community arts workshop from 1-3 p.m.

Some vendors on Saturday include Denver Food Rescue, the Denver Public Library Mobile Library Truck, Denver Urban Gardens, Volo, and Harvest Moon Botanics.

And then, the food. Check out South American treats like arepas and empanadas from Convivio Café, as well as offerings from Big Raven Bread, Little Bodega and Lottie’s Meats and Provisions.

If you can’t make Saturday’s festivities, the series is set to continue until September.

Some future musical acts include Pamlico Sound, Cherokee Social and Tenia Nelson Trio.

Ngo-Smith said he and the other community partners learn more and more about what the event needs and how they can keep it going for years to come. But for now he says, just come out and enjoy the day.

“The music is top-notch. It's so, so much local talent and plus it's usually beautiful out,” Ngo-Smith said. “It’s a great environment where everybody is super friendly and excited to be there and wanting to share their story. I was just talking with a community member and they were saying they loved being there, talking to all of the vendors, hearing their stories, their business origin stories and what their missions are. There's something for everybody.”

Clayton Community Days

When: Saturday, June 1, from noon to 6 p.m.

Where: 3840 York St.

York Street Yards, Fred Glick's house (with the chimney), the Lighthouse Writers Workshop's new headquarters (behind Glick's house) and the Coca-Cola bottling facility on the border of Clayton and Cole. June 20, 2023.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

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