The Riverwalk Backyard hosts first events |

The Riverwalk Backyard hosts first events

Melanie Wong
On Friday, the Edwards Riverwalk Backyard amphitheater hosted its concert debut, a midday performance by Gipsy Moon. When unavailable as a free place to hang out or eat lunch, the venue will be used for activities like community events and even weddings.
Anthony Thornton | |

EDWARDS — Edwards’ newest community space has opened its gates, and through the rest of the summer and into the fall, it will be hosting everything from concerts to brunches to wizard birthday parties.

On Friday, the venue hosted its concert debut, a midday performance by Gipsy Moon. The five-piece group from Nederland got people passing by and the audience dancing on the lawn. Even though the concert was the spot’s first official event, the amphitheater has been busy through the summer. On most weekdays, a group of children from a child care program use the theater as a play area. You’ll often see people soaking in the sun and eating lunch. Earlier in August, The Bookworm of Edwards was slated to host a Harry Potter birthday event at the space, but the weather forced organizers to move inside. On Sunday, it will host the first in a three concert series organized by KZYR.

Old space, new use

Attendees at the concert, a live recording by jazz musician Tony Gulizia, will be among the first to experience Riverwalk’s Backyard, an outdoor enclosure set between the shopping center and river that features natural rock seating and a small staging area. The amphitheater was built by Rocky Mountain Custom Landscapes and paid for by the Riverwalk Master Association through a combination of different tax revenues.

The concept started as an idea to provide a comfortable place for people to sit on The Riverwalk grass.

“There’s so many pets around that sometimes it’s not nice to sit on the grass. It’s hard to make all the pets go to the dog park, so we decided to make a place that people could hang out. It’s a people park,” joked Riverwalk community manager Todd Williams.

When not being rented out for events, the space is open to the public to meander, sit in the sun or enjoy a picnic. The only rule is that no dogs are allowed inside. Williams estimates that about 300 people could fit easily inside, and he said since the space opened in June, he’s already gotten inquiries about various community events and even a wedding.

“With the way it naturally forms with the buildings, and the fact that the river is right down there, and we thought this was a unique place and easily accessible,” Williams said.

New music series

Also keep an eye out for a new Sunday brunch and concert series at the Backyard beginning at 11 a.m. Radio station KZYR 97.7 will host three live broadcasts at the amphitheater called the Gust of Sound series. “Ed Rocks,” as the radio station has nicknamed the Backyard, will also be the venue for other ongoing free shows that KZYR hopes to bring into town.

“The name of the ongoing overall series will be HearFirstHere. It will be for impromptu free shows for bands performing later in the evening at local venues or on their way through town, such as Gipsy Moon,” said Tom Dobrez, president of True Local Events.

The Gust of Sound series starts on Sunday with Gulizia, followed by an open mic show on Aug. 24. This Back to the School of Rock show will feature local talent of all ages and genres. Apply to be a performer at The final show on Aug. 31 will bring DJ Weez as he celebrates his 1,000th “One Love” reggae music show, which airs Wednesday evenings from 9 to 11 p.m. on KZYR.

Admission is free, and attendees are invited to BYOB and bring a picnic.

“We’ve always wanted to take advantage of that beautiful setting (in the Backyard),” Dobrez said. “Being that it just officially opened, our plan is to hold these three events and hopefully see it grow next summer.”

Nicole Magistro, owner of The Bookworm, said she’s glad to see a side of the building that is used less get some attention.

“The Backyard had been totally underutilized as Riverwalk has developed,” she said. “Focus has really been on the main street and not the river side. I’m excited to see the homeowners and business owners embrace it.”

She said she’s excited to plan more outdoor events for the bookstore.

“We already have some things coming up — some nice, tasteful, family-oriented events,” she said. “I think there’s a lot that Edwards has to offer its community here.”

Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 or at Follow her on Twitter @mwongvail.

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