Carnation Festival Celebrates Our Unique History

For all the newcomers who may not know about the history of our wonderful city, the Carnation Festival, held every August, provides a little insight into what makes Wheat Ridge so special.

When the gold mines began to play out in the 1800s, Wheat Ridge seemed a natural location for families to begin settling to raise families as well as a few crops. Wheat, fruit and vegetables were all grown to feed those growing families and were also harvested and carted into nearby Denver for sale. As local businesses began to thrive in the community, early entrepreneurs began growing carnations, and greenhouses filled with flowers soon outnumbered farms that were cultivating and selling produce. With the abundance of this hardy flower, Wheat Ridge became known as the Carnation Capital of the U.S., and an arrangement of carnations was delivered every week to the White House in Washington, D.C.

After the incorporation of the city in 1969, a new tradition began, the annual Carnation Festival. This now-beloved summer tradition is held each year on the second weekend of August. This year the concerts, midway games and rides, and even the Zoppé Family circus all return, Aug. 12-15. 

The Carnation Festival is a free community event celebrating the unique character and history of Wheat Ridge, and is one of the oldest and longest-running festivals in the state of Colorado. The 2022 event will take place at Anderson Park, 4355 Field St., and although the festival starts on Friday, one of the highlights of the weekend is the hometown parade that heads west on 38th Avenue, starting at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday. The parade is led by the Wheat Ridge Police Honor Guard and the department’s first patrol car Unit 1, followed by Carnation Festival Royalty, me, Wheat Ridge City Council, the City Clerk and Treasurer, and city staff. The parade offers the young and young at heart some down-home fun with local high school bands, dance troupes, tractors pulling trailers of chickens and goats from local farms, area scout troops, local fire and EMS service vehicles, and so much more. Neighbors, business owners, residents, and visitors all gather curbside to watch and grab candy and other goodies shared by parade entrants.

The Carnation Festival continues to celebrate the city’s heritage by bringing the community together for this annual end-of-summer festival. A favorite among Carnation Festival-goers, the Zoppé Circus is celebrating the 177th year of its family-run extravaganza. Among the new acts is a bareback-riding performance by Zoppé’s sister Tosca. She will re-create their father’s classic bareback riding act in addition to a new act featuring a human pyramid of six-to-eight people standing atop four horses running side by side. The circus will also introduce an act this year that features a bicyclist riding around a large bowl-shaped apparatus that moves. There will also be a kids’ circus camp this year and all those details are at

In addition to the Zoppé Circus, the event offers fun for the whole family including professional fireworks Friday and Saturday nights, live music, vendors, art, food, beer and wine, kids’ activities, and the carnival. The annual event is planned and coordinated by a volunteer committee with seemingly endless energy and certainly a love for the City of Wheat Ridge.

For a full schedule of events, to sign up to serve as a volunteer or to sponsor the event, visit and keep an eye on social media and the city’s website for updates as events and the concert schedule are confirmed. Hope to see you at this year’s festival.

Contact Wheat Ridge Mayor Bud Starker at or 303-235-2800.

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