Ever wonder how to create your own ristra -- the strands of dried red chile peppers that are hung near the entrance of a home to symbolize an abundant harvest? Well, this is the weekend to learn, and the place to master the art is the Chile Harvest Festival, today and tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Denver Botanic Gardens. "We want to reach out to a diverse group of people and honor Spanish-speaking cultures," says DBG spokeswoman Hope Casselman. "We grew lots of chiles this year specifically for the festival."
Along with ristra-stringing demonstrations, the festival will showcase works by more than twenty local artisans, including Dan Muñiz, Tony Ortega, Ann Romero and Meggan DeAnza. And a caliente entertainment bill will liven things up with performances by the Teoilhuikatl Aztec Dance Group, the Mestizo Dancers and Fiesta Colorado, storytellers Angel Vigil and Geraldine Lawson, and traditional folk musicians the Trujillo Family.
"We have a really well-rounded group of authentic artists, from painters to stained glass to photographs," says Jerry Vigil, spokesman for the Chicano Humanities and Arts Council, co-sponsor of the event. "It's going to be a really fun festival, because it will have a different flavor."
Speaking of flavor, vendors from Tosh's Hacienda, Rosalinda's Mexican Cafe and El Señor Sol will also be on hand, selling savory Mexican food. "We're planning on making this an annual event again," says Casselman of the festival, which was held at several locations around town before being discontinued in the late 1990s. "It's a win-win situation for all of us."
Admission is $9 for adults, $6.50 for seniors and $5 for children; DBG members get a $1 discount. Tickets can be purchased at the DBG gatehouse, 1005 York Street. For details, contact the DBG at 720-865-3500 or www. botanicgardens.org, or CHAC at 303-571-0440 or www.chacweb.org. -- Julie Dunn
Foam on the Range
A group of thirsty revelers will drink their way through three of Denver's historic saloons the modern way during tonight's Light Rail Pub Crawl led by Tom "Dr. Colorado" Noel. "The Light Rail is the perfect opportunity to visit three substantial and different historical sites," says Bobbe Hultin, tour director at the Colorado Historical Society, which is organizing the event. "And it's also going to be a lot of fun."
The time-travel trek starts at 5:30 p.m., with libations at the Buckhorn Exchange, 1000 Osage Street; the sudsy sojourners will then travel north to Tosh's Hacienda in Five Points and south to Jose's Restaurant in Littleton before returning to the Buckhorn at 9 p.m. Historical interpretations will be provided by the drinking doctor along the way.
Tonight's crawl -- which costs $40 and is limited to thirty people -- is sold out, but two more are scheduled for October and November. For reservations, call 303-866-4641. -- Julie Dunn
Fuel for the Long Run
What do you eat when you're preparing to run like the wind? Lots of people eat their fill, and the filling doesn't get much better than at the twentieth annual Taste of Cherry Creek culinary event, which doubles as the official kickoff for the October 12 Denver Komen Race for the Cure. More than twenty top Cherry Creek-area toques will roll out their delicacies, including uppity tidbits from Mel's Bar & Grill and the Fourth Story, working-class eats from the Cherry Cricket and Armando's Pizza, and sweets from Enstrom's and Gelato D'Italia. In addition, local diva Lannie Garrett will warble for the sated crowd at Fillmore Plaza, First Avenue and Fillmore Street. For tickets, $30 to $40, call 303-830-TIXS or log on to www.tasteofcherrycreek.org; proceeds benefit the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and the Cherry Creek Chamber of Commerce. -- Susan Froyd
Karaoke benefit puts guests in the spotlight
Forget singing in the shower. Tonight you can showcase your talent -- or lack thereof -- in front of 300 of your closest friends at Cocktails & Karaoke, National Jewish Medical and Research Center's second annual benefit party. It works like this: Attendees can pay money -- bids start at $10 -- to force their friends up on stage to belt out their best Elvis, Frank Sinatra or Madonna impersonations. "Last year we covered everything from rap to country," says Mary White, special-events manager for National Jewish. "People sang 'Dancing Queen,' 'Baby Got Back' and 'Addicted to Love.'"
Tickets to the event are $75 and include parking and one free drink. "Some people need liquid courage to get up there on stage," notes White.
And for those suffering from a severe case of stage fright, a get-out-of-jail-free "laryngitis pass" can be purchased for $20 in advance or $40 at the door. "You learn very quickly who is tone deaf and who is not," White adds, laughing. Produced by the A.I.R. Society, last year's song-a-thon netted $25,000; the goal this year is $35,000.
Cocktails & Karaoke starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Blue Sky Grill inside the Pepsi Center, 1000 Chopper Circle; for tickets, call 303-398-1463 or log on to www.nationaljewish.org/karaoke. -- Julie Dunn
The Home Team
Historic Denver opens some doors