From June through the end of September, there’s a food or wine festival almost every single weekend somewhere in Colorado. Plan your travels around one of these delicious events, which almost always include live music, cooking demos and art fairs — as well as the occasional pig race, rubber-duck competition and bocce tournament.
BBQ Challenge: June 13–15, 2013
The smell of barbecue takes over the Summit County hub of Frisco at this Kansas City Barbecue Society-sanctioned event, and all who attend are guaranteed to leave with sticky fingers and a full tummy. This perfect Father’s Day event also includes cooking demos, pig races and activities for the kids.
Crested Butte Wine & Food Festival: July 11–14, 2012
For serious wine lovers and culinarians, Crested Butte's fest offers the chance to meet winemakers and sommeliers, take a James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour Dinner and attend seminars on artisan cocktail-making and New World vs. Old World wines, all set amid the town's mountain splendor.
Food & Wine Classic in Aspen: June 14–16, 2013
Taste the crème de la crème of epicurean delights at this hugely popular and glamorous event. Taste wine, sample food and learn from some of the world’s more recognizable chefs, all under Aspen’s brilliant alpine skies. 2011’s speakers include José Andrés, Michael Chiarello, Mario Batali, Tom Colicchio, Thomas Keller, Marcus Samuelsson and many more.
Telluride Wine Festival: June 27–30, 2013
Though this festival claims a devotion to wine, organizers of one of Telluride’s longest standing annual events leave plenty of room on the schedule for food. Between the sipping and swilling, festivalgoers attend cooking demonstrations, concerts, decadent meals and seminars led by sommeliers and celebrity chefs.
Steamboat Wine Festival: Aug. 7–11, 2013
This event is really about the wine — and tasting it in many of Steamboat’s beautiful summer settings: at the top of the gondola, at the base of the mountain and along the Yampa River. You’ll also have the chance to sample innovative dishes from stellar chefs and attend cooking demonstrations and seminars.
Snowmass Culinary & Arts Festival: Aug. 10, 2013
With the towering Snowmass Mountain as a backdrop, foodies will savor tasting menus and cooking demos from celebrity chefs (including Richard Sandoval, Hosea Rosenberg and Alex Seidel), a juried art exhibit, a performance by blues legend Otis Taylor and specialty-food-and-spirits pairings, which will highlight many liqueurs and liquors that are produced locally.
Mesa Verde Country Food, Wine & Art Festival: Aug. 23–24, 2013
Mesa Verde Country’s Cortez festival focuses on the talent of the locals, with displays by artists inspired by the beauty of southwest Colorado, performances by area musicians, wine from Colorado vintners and meals prepared from products grown and raised nearby.
A Taste of Colorado: Aug. 30–Sept. 2, 2013
One of the state’s best-known festivals takes over Denver’s Civic Center Park, with thousands of end-of-summer revelers gathering to taste distinctive Colorado dishes. Tour the state’s menus with samples from more than 50 restaurants, see cooking demonstrations, dance to live music and peruse the masterpieces in 270 booths in the Arts & Crafts Marketplace.
Breckenridge Wine Festival: Sept. 2013
Breckenridge’s quintessential mountain-town Main Street bustles with family-friendly fun during this event, including live music, rubber-duck races, food vendors, an arts-and-crafts fair and, of course, an around-the-world wine festival for the adults set amid the town’s spectacular riverside setting.
Festival Italiano: Sept. 7–8, 2013
Lakewood's Belmar shopping, dining and entertainment district transforms into a Tuscan village with Italian wine and food (including the all-important authentic tiramisu and other tasty desserts), chef demos where you can learn to make your own pesto or Italian sausage, chalk artists, a bocci tournament and a homage to all things Italiano.
Colorado Pork and Hops Challenge: Sept. 7–8, 2013
Combining two things Coloradans love — barbecue and craft beer — the event hosts pro and amateur barbecue competitions (you get be the judge!), ice-cold locally brewed beer, live music and family activities in Grand Junction’s massive Lincoln Park.
Colorado Mountain Winefest: Sept. 21, 2013
This celebration of wine goes right to the source, taking place where much of Colorado’s wine is made — in Palisade. Sample the wares of 56 wineries; meet wine, cheese and peach growers; and talk with painters, ice carvers and chefs. Savor a chocolate-and-port pairing, tour a winery, attend winemaker dinners and even stomp a few grapes.
Pueblo Chile and Frijoles Festival: Sept. 20–22, 2013
This event is your best chance to taste of the pride of Pueblo — a special, intensely flavorful variety of green chile. Served smoking on a stick, chopped and tucked into a quesadilla or sprinkled in salsa, it’s the star of this show. Cooking competitions, live music, dancing, arts and crafts, and a farmers’ market round out the festival fun.
Photos: Courtesy of Food & Wine Classic in Aspen/Riccardo Savi; Steamboat Wine Festival; Festival Italiano.