The Harvest House Part 2 – Friday Afternoon Club is causing headaches in town

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In the 1970s, the Harvest House Hotel was established as a venue for banquets, conferences and football fans.

In August 1975, the hotel also found itself in the music business. A concert scheduled for the Pow Wow grounds was moved due to muddy conditions in the outdoor area of ​​the Harvest House. Country star Waylon Jennings headlined the event, which also featured the Chris Hillman Band and Tracy Nelson and Mother Earth. Music played late into the evening, attracting over 2,500 fans.

The Friday Afternoon Club beer garden at the Harvest House Hotel in 1978. (Carnegie Library for Local History/Daily Camera Collection)

The success of the concert and its diverse audience led hotel management to consider regularly booking bands at the hotel.

After a renovation, Anthony’s Gardens, named after hotel owner Tony Seibert, opened in the summer of 1977 with a regular “Friday Afternoon Club” featuring live music.

It didn’t take long before Harvest House’s FAC was a smash hit, drawing a thousand or more young people from Boulder, Denver, Fort Collins and all the way to Durango to kick off the weekend.

Boulder’s attorney, Harold Fielden, a member of The Legendary 4-Nikators, was there almost every Friday, even when his group wasn’t booked.

“Thursday everyone was already talking about going to Harvest House,” Fielden said in an interview. “It was impossible to plan to do anything else during this time because everyone would be at the CAF.”

With 15 outdoor drink stations, hotel staff claimed it was the largest outlet in the state, a Daily Camera report reported. Twenty bouncers were hired to check IDs.

However, things got out of hand. The merchants near the hotel were furious that their customers had no place to park on a Friday afternoon. Traffic stopped on 28th Street at the point where those heading to CAF would pull over, abandon their cars and run the rest of the way to the hotel, Fielden recalled.

The city was inundated with complaints against the CAF.

Perhaps the straw that broke the camel’s back was the July 28, 1980, issue of Newsweek, which published an article about an ultra-liberal and hedonistic Boulder titled “Where the Hip Meet to Trip.” The two-page story claimed the Boulder offices closed at 3 p.m. so people could go home, change clothes and kick off the Harvest House party. Newsweek alluded to drug use as well as a culture of connection that permeated the weekly event.

Newsweek’s issue sold out across town and while some laughed at the inaccuracies and exaggerations, many were offended. The article sparked letters, complaints and even legal action related to the FAC of Harvest House.

In 1982, the hotel was purchased by AIRCOA (Associated Inns and Restaurant Company of America) and Citibank. The new leadership has promised strict oversight of the FAC with a concerted effort to weed out “scum and profiteers as much as possible”, a Daily Camera report said. Noise officials began issuing tickets directly to each group. But the complaints continued, and neighboring business owners sued the hotel over the assault on cars every Friday.

Gradually people grew up and settled down. In the late 1980s, the FAC party died out.

In 2003, a new hotel manager revived the weekly happy hour and sponsored a contest for the most embarrassing or romantic story in the original FAC. Entries poured in. The pile of personal memories included tales of binge drinking, playing Frisbee and volleyball, watching band antics including the times a motorcycle roared on stage, cooling off in Boulder Creek , to fall in love, to dance without underwear and even to conceive a child at the event. One entry dubbed the FAC “Boulder’s little Woodstock”.

For many Boulder boomers, Harvest House FAC was a defining experience and a piece of shared history that will never be forgotten.

Carol Taylor can be reached at [email protected] She and Silvia Pettem alternate the historical chronicle “In Retrospect”.

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