Denver Westword’s Tacolandia 2018: Our First Big Event with a VW Bug Photo Booth

August, 19, 2018

This is a story from the road about Modbug Photo Booth’s first big public event – Westword’s Tacolandia. We had done private parties before, but there was 2,500 people expected to be there that Sunday. I couldn’t wait to be part of this event, I mean c’mon … tacos! But knowing the amount of people and public exposure there would be, gave me some jitters.

In my experience in owning a business, there is no better way to deal with self-doubt than quieting it with actionSo I jumped right in. 

VW Vinny Striking a Pose at Tacolandia 2018

Photograph by Danni Bergen

First things first …


I met with Westword’s marketing team about their photo preferences. We decided to keep it old-school and print photos on a 2x6 strip, white background and to include the Tacolandia logo. I designed four variations of the template, and displayed to the right is the lovely one that was chosen.

The white background really makes everything else pop. I was admittedly a little star struck to create a photo product that included a shout out to Westword and Budlight.

It’s the moments that make us remember to be in the moment that we have to hold onto, right?

I talk about the technical side of this journey to prepare for this event in my other blog post, Function Before Fashion: How I got my VW Bug photo booth ready before our first big eventAdmittedly, my comfort zone doesn’t lead with technology. Although there’s a lesson there, it’s also the reason I started with preparing for Tacolandia with an Adobe Photoshop photo print strip design, planning to decorate my Volkswagen Bug, and a printer box.

 Since before this business existed, I was obsessed with flowers and the paradox it creates for me when I see them paired with a vintage car. A goal of mine is to grow my own florals to be used for events, but for now I was happy to settle for faux rose garland from Amazon.

Coming up roses

When the flowers were added to the window frames of my Volkswagen name ‘Vinny,’ I instantly started ‘fan-girling.’ I was internally freaking out about how cute he looked, grabbed my camera, and photographing this Vinny moment that was giving me Lana Del Rey / Elvis / sugar skull vibes.

I couldn’t believe I was geek-ing out so much over a car, but I couldn’t help it. He was too adorable to believe.

VW Vinny Test Dress Up Run

Photograph by  Danni Bergen

Printer Box? Yes!

In the spirit of giving even more razzle dazzle on the day of Tacolandia, I knew there was one additional thing I needed – a “printer box.” To be more specific, this is a wooden cover that goes over the printer to mask the machinery.

There’s not much that’s sexy about getting out of a classic 1969 Volkswagen Bug photo booth, to be met with a grey industrial DNP printer when you grab your photos. It takes away from the nostalgia, in my opinion. Fortunately, my fiancé is a terrific woodworker who was excited to take my design, and create a printer box to add a more mysterious element to the printing experience.

After a discussion or two about it, he used Cherry wood to create a three-sided box to seat over the printer for the event. What we both love about this type of wood is the color that’s created when you leave it in the sun. Denver has plenty of sunshine to go around, so after a few hours of build time, we left it out on the picnic table to take it all in.

The exposure created a very beautiful golden layer to the outside of it, that I loved.

It was my job to then spray it with Clear Satin Polyurethane to keep it water proof, just in case. I struggled to keep the layers even, but my personal craftsman was right there to back me up and keep it gorgeous. Gotta love him.

Side View of Printer Box and Lovely Couple Choosing Props

Photograph by Danni Bergen

Finally, we had everything ready to go and we were off to Denver’s Civic Center Park for the big afternoon at Tacolandia! 

 Need to take a moment here to say, Denver’s Westword was incredible to work with. As soon as we got there, we had volunteers telling us exactly where to go and helping us with our set up. The spot we were given was right in front of the Capital building. If you know anything about Denver, this was exceptional “real estate.”

And even better, as soon as I got my faux rose garland out, I realized the flowers matched Westword’s red used in all their marketing and t-shirts.


Accidental Twinning with Denver Westword 

Photograph by Danielle Lirette

Once we were all set up and had taken a few test photos within 45 minutes, it was time for the event to start. We were right in front of the main stage of the event. The taquerias had fired up their grills. The air permeated with delicious dreams of tacos and desserts. Shortly after, the Mariachi band began to play and their beautifully dressed dancers began to perform.

I was suddenly struck with the realization, “Holy crap. This is my office today. This is where I get to work.” My other thought being, “This mariachi group is amazing, and I need to invite them to try my photo booth asap.”
In addition to all that, Tacolandia goers started filling the area and I quickly realized people needed to know my Vinny is also a free photo booth!

We’re the first Volkswagen Bug to do this is in Denver, so what it can do – doesn’t always automatically click with people. No exaggeration, I immediately thought of that Netflix show GLOW. In one episode, the group is trying to gain network investors so they start a ‘whisper campaign.’ For them, it meant schmoozing around a conference event speaking loudly about this new venture for executives to overhear.

For me, I told everyone I knew at the event to start grabbing tacos and talking about Modbug Photo Booths while they were waiting in line. Since I had to stay put, I also grabbed my bubble wand and began mentioning “free photo booth!” to everyone who walked by.

And what do you know it, it worked! Soon, there was a consistent line of people trying and wanting to retry the Volkswagen Bug photo booth!

Our prints come out in under 10 seconds, so the group moves pretty quickly but I never would have guessed the contagious impact a line could make. Once people see people having fun, not to mention how cute the car is, other’s immediately start getting involved.

It really was a terrific experience. Once the band was wrapping up their break, they graciously came over and all gave the photo booth a try. Later that day, my heart warmed up even a bit more to see an expectant mother taking the photo booth for a spin, too! Having many friends who have gone through pregnancy, I like to think we were an acceptable fun substitute for someone sworn off margaritas.

On top of all that, I had one couple come back to try out our photo booth a third time! So by then, I had to take a moment and thank them again for their support.

This is no exaggeration, the girl looked me right in the eyes and in response said, “I have to be honest with you. This was my favorite part of the event all day. I’ve been trying to get my boyfriend to do a photo booth with me for ages, and he made an exception for Vinny.” “

During my relatively short-lived years of working in the for-profit corporate industry, although I felt like I was making a difference, the difference I was making always felt abstract. It was more of a hope than a reality I could witness.
Seeing people smile over their photos, and the joy it brings me to make a difference in someone’s experience is exactly why I started this business. And it’s exactly why I’m going to keep doing it.

Do you have any photo booth memories? Or perhaps you went to an event expecting one thing, but something unexpected was there that made it even more special? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Also, if you’d like to get more stories from the road or updates about what new things we’re getting into, please subscribe to our small business monthly newsletter ‘Modbug Photo Booth’s House Organ’ as well!

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