The recent news that the last of the old-style Volkswagen Beetles will trundle off the assembly line this summer at VolkswagenMexico in Puebla, Mexico, may be just a blip on the radar of Gens X and Y as they whiz by with daisies in their dashboard vases. But there may be a bug lurking in just about everyone's past, from "Herbie" of Disney-movie fame to the saucy lavender one your hippie Uncle Dave misused back in '75. The vehicle created in Hitler's Germany as an affordable, no-nonsense "people's car" lived up to its billing, even if it was neither pretty, powerful nor particularly warm during a blizzard. Anyone could have one, and everyone did. They're still easy to fix, and parts are still plentiful, though production lines everywhere other than Mexico closed in 1978.
"They just won't go away," says Fort Collins bug guru Al Burkhart, who buys, repairs and sells VWs under the moniker of Al Bugs Me. His wife swears he lives and breathes Volkswagens, though for Burkhart, it's clearly more than just an infatuation. He's a longtime car guy with a history in 'vettes and muscle cars; he went buggy in 1998 at the dawn of the "new" bug, something he calls a happy circumstance. Now he's become the big wheel behind the Colorado Bug Classic, a Fort Collins car show and parts swap that celebrates its second year today.
"The new Beetle rejuvenated interest in the old one," Burkhart says. "People are going to start collecting more and more, now that the old Beetles are not going to be made." What is it about a bug that draws people? Burkhart calls it personality: "Whenever I buy one from somebody, 80 percent of the time, they have a name for it. I still haven't figured out why."
If you're also stricken by the bug, join other "insect" survivors at Burkhart's classic, today from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Anheuser-Busch Tour Center, 2351 Busch Drive, north of Fort Collins. Burkhart confesses that he'd like his event to compare to the huge rallies held by motorcycle fans: "I want it to be the Sturgis of Fort Collins." To that effect, up to 300 Beetles and their owners will congregate like ladybugs in a feeding frenzy to participate in family-style activities, general gawking and a bug raffle to benefit the Child Advocacy Center and United Way of Larimer County (the prize: a flamed, pearl-painted, chrome-engined 1969 California custom job). Admission is free; for information, call 1-970-493-1300 or log on to www.coloradobugclassic.com. -- Susan Froyd
Lafayette gets juggy with it
Partake in some nectar of the gods this weekend at the second annual Lafayette 95th Street Festival of Colorado Wine, where 22 Colorado vintners will be showcasing bottle after bottle of their finest grape juices. Today's wine-tasting, which runs from noon to 6 p.m., will feature samples of more than a hundred different wines, along with cheese, ice-carving demonstrations and a giant fountain flowing with chocolate -- perfect for fresh-fruit dipping.
"We want to help expose the Front Range to all the great Colorado wineries out there," says Jo Judd of Lafayette Community Events, the festival's coordinator. "We estimate that we're going to pour and sell over 3,000 gallons of wine on Saturday. That's a lot of wine."
Other events planned for the weekend include seminars, a winemakers' dinner, concerts by the Timberline Symphony Pops and Tiny Barge and the Big Chill, fine-art booths, a 5K race and a cooking contest. "This is an excellent opportunity to see what Colorado winemakers have to offer," says Judd.
Tickets for the wine-tasting, held at Atlas Valley, on the southwest corner of 95th Street and Arapahoe Road in Lafayette, are $15 in advance and $18 at the gate; non-drinkers are admitted free. For tickets at a complete festival schedule, visit www.lafayettewinefestival.com or call 303-926-4352. Julie Dunn
It's an understatement to call the Baker neighborhood one of Denver's best-kept secrets: Nestled in an urban pocket between Broadway and the Platte River, south of Sixth Avenue and north of Alameda, Baker is a rich multicultural universe of beautiful Victorian homes in varying degrees of renovation and/or decay, edged by one of the city's funkiest shopping districts. It's neither wealthy nor poor, hip nor square, and when you walk its tree-lined streets, all notions of contemporary time and place can disappear. It takes all kinds, one supposes, and where all kinds congregate, there's got to be all kinds of stuff. Find out just what kind of stuff Baker's made of during today's Baker Bargain Bonanza, a community-wide yard sale that takes place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; it will feature an array of cast-off goods that reflect Baker's diversity. In addition, adjacent Broadway Terrace shops will participate in a Miracle Mile Sidewalk Bazaar, beginning at 10 a.m. (Try Decade, 56 South Broadway, for furniture, pottery, gifts and twenty-buck shoes, or check out the marked-down clothing at Manos, 422 Broadway.) For more fun, the La Familia Recreation Center will host a party from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Dailey Park, Archer Place and Elati Street. Yard-sale maps are available at First Avenue Presbyterian Church, 120 West First Avenue. -- Susan Froyd