Festivals that should be, because we really need more festivals around here

Bowl of vegetable chili with corn sticks

Chocolate cake

Dog with ball

Grilling football fans

touch screen phone

A festival for macaroni and cheese? Where have you been all my life?

A festival celebrating bacon? I can smell it from here!

A festival dedicated to all-things Colorado, from music to art and food? Let’s go!

Thanks to the brilliant minds of some in this beautiful state, these festivals aren’t just fabrications of a hungry mind. They are real.

The third annual Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival was June 22–23 in Keystone. The Mac and Cheese Festival, featuring gourmet macaroni and cheese samples and local wine and beer, is Saturday, June 28, at Durango’s Santa Rita Park. And the inaugural Flavors of Colorado Festival, combining Colorado-based restaurants, artists, musicians, brewers and distillers, is set for Aug. 15–17 in Avon.

Inspired by these and multitude of other festivals, we thought it would be fun to suggest even more for western Colorado.

Sure, it could be argued the last thing we need is more festivals because it’s hard enough to keep track of the existing ones. But it’s always fun to dream, particularly when it smells like freshly baked pie and tastes like pizza or fried cheese.

Chilly Chili

Yes, chili cook-offs exist here already, but there can never be too many. So many people around here cook up amazing chili. The categories would be green chili, red chili and regular chili — I’ve been told red chili and regular chili are not the same thing — then subcategorized into mild, medium and spicy because apparently it’s not fair for them all to be together. Cost for all-you-can-eat samples served in cup portions would be $20 at Lincoln Park Barn, and people could eat at tables set up outside.

Winner: The People’s Choice winner in each category would be awarded a trophy that looks like an Oscar, but the statue holds a bowl of chili instead of a sword.

Time of Year Held: end of January in that empty weekend between the NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl.

Grand Valley’s Next Top Texter!

Think you’re the fastest and best texter in the area? Let’s put those claims to the test at the Stocker Stadium. Participants will be given a hand out of an excerpt from Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World,” a novel about the future thanks to profound changes in technology. Participants would have to text while walking around the track.

Heats would be held, if necessary, and text and walking times would be clocked like a track meet.

Winner: The one who completes the text the fastest, with correct punctuation and capitalization, and has the best walking time, would win a tablet of choice and one month of free cell phone service.

Time of Year Held: early February. Let’s see how texters do with gloves on.

Pets on Parade

The concept for this festival is similar to that of the Parade of Homes, where people take a self-guided tour of area homes to see trends in interior design and craftsmanship.

During Pets on Parade, people would purchase $10 tickets to drive around and look at other people’s pets. They would keep track of the pets they see, then turn in tickets at area pet stores to vote for the cutest, ugliest, nicest, most obscure (but legal) and best dressed pets. Obviously, owners would assume responsibility for the behavior and health of their pets. And if you would like to attend, leave your own pet at home, and if your kid is a tail-puller, keep him or her away from the animals.

Charitable Benefactor: Proceeds would be given to local animal shelters.

Winner: There would be a drawing for all the category winners for a $250 gift certificate to a local pet store and a $250 gift certificate to a local vet clinic.

Time of Year Held: early March.

Fried 5K

Onion rings, French fries, cheese curds, Snickers bars. We don’t care what chefs or home cooks with a fryer would want to serve. Just know it would be served fried. Health-wise, there are better ideas, but that’s why the booths would be set up along a 5K route around Canyon View Park. You would walk a 5K to get the fried food. Cost to enter would be $30 and include a T-shirt and a commemorative stick on which you could hold your fried things.

Winner: The People’s Choice winner would receive a new fryer engraved with his or her name, along with an all-expenses paid trip to Las Vegas on Allegiant Airlines.

Time of Year Held: late April.

Free-Food Fest

Did you enjoy the Fried 5K or were you mortified by the concept? Well, unwind and cleanse your body at the Free-Food Festival, celebrating gluten-free, lactose-free, sugar-free, etc. Admission would be free, but donations of non-perishable items would be accepted. Businesses could set up booths to offer samples and information about the Free-Food options and items in the region.

Charitable Cause: Local food banks.

Time of Year Held: early May.

Desserts in the Desert

As the name implies this would be a desserts-only festival in the high desert. It would be sort of cool to set up tents in the desert areas of the region, but parking and authorization could be tough. Organizers might have to settle for a city park. The motif would be cacti and cowboys. Local restaurants, caterers, bakers, etc., would create bite-size dessert portions or pint-size dessert drinks. Admission would be $40.

Prize: The winner of a People’s Choice Award would receive a three-month supply of baking ingredients, plus three months of free, VIP parking in downtown Grand Junction.

Time of Year Held: mid-May.

Grand Valley Musical Chairs

This is inspired by the real-life Riot Fest, which includes stops in Toronto, Chicago and Denver, where people of all ages can hear rock, hip-hop, indie, pop and more while riding carnival rides and camping. Grand Valley Musical Chairs would mix larger name acts with local acts of all genres, enabling people to rotate between several venues during three subsequent weekends to see a mix of music and activities.

Powderhorn Mountain Resort, Lincoln Park and Country Jam Ranch would make ideal venues, spreading people out. The event at Lincoln Park would be more kid-friendly. The one at Powderhorn would include chair lift rides and guided hikes on Grand Mesa. The festival in Mack would include carnival rides. Multiple ticket package options would be available, depending on age, activities of interest and premium seating.

Time of Year Held: late June-early July.

The Anti-Festival Festival

No vendors. No charge. No security. No fences. Bring your own food and drink, potluck-style. Have a garden? Bring produce to share and exchange with other gardeners. The event would be at Lincoln Park, with live music (acoustic only) and free games such as hula hoops, frisbees and slack lines.

Time of Year Held: first weekend in August.

Cheese, please!

Cheeses from around the world would be served in many different forms: a wine and cheese pairing, fried cheese products paired with beer, charcuterie platter of fine meats and cheeses, grilled cheese sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, warm Brie cheese wheels with fruit compote, cheesecake, etc. Tickets would cost $100. Granted, an event such as this would be insanely expensive to throw, but it would be fantastic.

Winner: Society.

Charitable cause: Organizations that support local farmers, ranchers and growers.

Time Of Year Held: mid-August.

Pie in the Sky

Pizzas are sometimes called pies. And pie is often called pie. Let’s pair the two for a pizza and pie party, featuring those interested restaurants, caterers and bakers who serve pizza and/or pie on their regular menus.

Winner: The People’s Choice Award winner would receive a portion of the proceeds and a traveling wooden trophy sculpted into the shape of a pie.

Time of Year Held: first weekend in October.

Tailgate 2-for

On a weekend when Colorado Mesa University has a home Saturday game and the Denver Broncos play a division rival on a Sunday, set up a community tailgate between CMU’s campus and Stocker Stadium/Lincoln Park, closing off parts of 12th and North Avenue between the two venues.

The two-day festival would be pedestrian-friendly to enable people to easily eat tailgate food at vendor booths, shop vendor tables, listen to live music and celebrate all-things football. (This is self-serving. I miss Big Ten tailgates, where tens of thousands of people just mill around happy before a game because no one has won, lost or gotten robbed by an official’s call.)

The CMU game would be broadcast on a large screen outside the stadium for those unable to go in, and the Denver Broncos game would be shown on the same screen the next day.

Time of Year Held: end of October.

The 12 Days of (Chick Flick) Christmas

A local theater would show a different chick flick every evening during the 12 days before Christmas. The theater would serve the following items: movie theater popcorn and hot chocolate with marshmallows. The new Avalon Theatre could be an ideal venue. Pajamas and slippers would be highly encouraged. Admission would cost $5 per movie or $40 for the entire 12-movie package.

Charitable cause: The Avalon Theatre Foundation — The Cornerstone Project for ongoing renovation and remodeling efforts.

Winner: me and anyone else who loves chick flicks.

Time of Year Held: December.


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