The nation's oldest (and one of its biggest) whitewater events gets under way today in Salida, where the rambunctious Arkansas River races down from its headwaters with great purpose through one of the most technically challenging stretches of rapids anywhere. Several competitions, including the signature Pro Raft Race, a 26-mile kayak race, various freestyle races and a goofy Hooligan event, provide the centerpiece at the 55th annual FIBArk Whitewater Festival, but for spectators and fun lovers, that's only the foam on the river's wild descent. Participatory FIBArk (short for "First in Boating the Arkansas") events include the Tenderfoot Hill Climb, duck and bed races, an air-band competition and more, as well as an ongoing street fest with live music, food and vendor booths to spare. The festival continues through Sunday, so come on down -- the water's great. Call 1-719-539-0700 or log on to www.fibark.net.
Friday, June 13
The Swallow Hill Music Association's Summer Bluegrass Series wanders far afield tonight when New Country Kitchen, a bluegrass import fresh from Rome, pays the musical genre its highest compliment: a lightning-fast "newgrass" interpretation spiked with a native feel that's right on the lira. All-girl Americana group Uncle Earl opens the show at 8 p.m. at Swallow Hill Music Hall, 71 East Yale Avenue; for tickets, $10 to $15, call 303-777-1003 or log on to www.swallowhill.com.
Saturday, June 14
Joust deserts: Sleepy little Larkspur, between Castle Rock and Colorado Springs on the I-25 corridor, wakes up every summer to find itself smack dab in the middle of another time and place. That's because the town is home to the annual Colorado Renaissance Festival, a midsummer immersion into the sixteenth century, replete with jesters and jousters, knights and ladies, louts and lutists, rogues and maidens, street artisans and lots of those humongous turkey legs you're required to gnaw on whenever visiting with King Henry VIII. The entire village and attendant activities are open from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. weekly on Saturdays and Sundays, today through August 3; admission is $15.95 for adults and $8 for children ages five to twelve (children under five admitted free). This weekend's season-opening theme is "Joust for You," featuring the usual three jousting matches a day along with an ongoing colorful costume parade of knights and steeds; for a complete schedule of weekly themes, call 303-688-6010 or log on to www.coloradorenaissance.com.
Dancers of every stripe will converge this weekend for the Boulder International Festival, a free, two-day event on the courthouse lawn astride Boulder's Pearl Street Mall, bringing dance traditions from the British Isles, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Israel, the Middle East and the Americas center stage for all to enjoy. And that enjoyment goes beyond spectatorship: Teaching and participatory dance sessions will be included among the performances, giving audiences a chance to hoof it for themselves. In addition, those attending can catch their breath while perusing vendor booths and munching on multicultural goodies. Fest hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow. For information, call 303-440-8303 or log on to www.villageartscoalition.org.
This evening, downtown Boulder also plays host to the fifth annual Midsummer Night's Walk, a 5K pledge march to benefit the programs of the Boulder County AIDS Project. Envision a Cure, the program surrounding the walk, kicks off tonight at 5 p.m. in Boulder Central Park, Broadway and Canyon Boulevard, with entertainment and socializing preceding the 6:45 p.m. main event. Elizabethan costumerie (in keeping with the Shakespearean theme) is not required, but walk organizers say it would be nice -- no, serendipitous -- if people followed suit and dressed up in pleated collars, bejeweled gowns and pantaloons. The minimum pledge is $25; to register, call 303-444-6121 or log on to www.bcap.org.
Sunday, June 15
Today's Hike for Hospice may be a benefit for Hospice of Metro Denver, but it falls on Father's Day for a reason: to rally together able-bodied men, their families and their leashed dogs for a cause worth climbing a mountain for. The five-mile round-trip trek wends its way up and down Mount Lindo, near Indian Hills, beginning at 8 a.m. Once you reach the summit, you can call a loved one or have a dove released in his or her name; when you reach bottom again, treat your kids (ages twelve and under) to free admission at Tiny Town. Mount Lindo is located on U.S. Highway 285 between Morrison and Tiny Town; for registration information, call 303-321-2828, ext. 1018.
Monday, June 16
Eight regional artists created installations informed by an open-minded architectural concept for Oblique Angle: Architecture of the Line, a new exhibit going on display today at the Museum of Outdoor Arts, located on the second floor of the Englewood Civic Center, 1000 Englewood Parkway. The works, created from such diverse media as silk, steel, glass, film and newspaper, will remain on display through November 30; an opening reception and spatially challenging performance by Cirque de Soleil breakaway artists Acrobazia will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. on June 28. Works by Denver artist Sean Doherty are also on display through the end of June; call 303-806-0444 or log on to www.moaonline.org for details.
Tuesday, June 17
The poet laureate of the Manhattan underground will surface tonight at the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th Street: An Evening With Lou Reed will not only revisit seminal tunes Reed performed decades ago with the Velvet Underground, but will also draw from his long solo career, a chapter that's far from over. It's an impressive span that's been the undercurrent of many ensuing musical movements, from punk to grunge and onward. Time-travel with Reed and an ensemble that includes bassist Fernando Saunders, cellist Jane Scarpantoni and vocalist Antony, beginning at 7 p.m.; for tickets, $50, call 303-786-7030 or log on to www.bouldertheater.com.
Wednesday, June 18
Women rock! That's what Ladyfest Out West is all about, and the five-day free-form festival has a myriad of fresh ways to express it. Live music, theater, film, poetry, fine art, lectures and workshops are all components of the non-profit, community-based festival that originated three years ago in Olympia, Washington; the event's Denver debut will culminate June 22 at Pridefest, the city's annual gay-pride parade and fair. Tonight, though, you can get a taste of what's to come at a marathon-length opening-night lineup of performances, from 6:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. at Ladyfest's ground zero, the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street. While you're there, you might want to sign up for such upcoming workshops as Herstory of Tattoo; Name That Pronoun: A Panel About Gender-Variant People; How to Be a Drag Superstar; Midwifery; Sex Toys 101 and more. Tonight's program is $10 at the door; films are $5, and workshops are free. For a complete schedule, log on to www.ladyfestoutwest.org. To read more about Ladyfest, see the "Summer!" insert in this issue.