This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Thursday, August 5

A mixture of musical styles inspired by Mexico and unique to the Southwest -- from Tex-Mex to mariachi -- will be in the spotlight during El Centro Su Teatro's eighth annual Chicano Music Festival, a five-day event that's also a well-disguised fundraiser for the long-lived Hispanic community theater group. Tonight from 7 to 10 p.m., that community will be out in full regalia for a Tejano Thursday Dance Party featuring accordionist Albert Zamora y Talento; the fest continues through Sunday with Chicano Hall of Fame inductions tomorrow and an all-day Summer Pachanga with non-stop music on Saturday before wrapping up Sunday with mariachi music. Tickets are $8 to $10 daily, or purchase an all-event pass for $35. El Centro is at 4725 High Street; call 303-296-0219 or go to www.suteatro.org.

Frisday, August 6

This weekend's Arabian Horse Celebration, today through Sunday at the National Western Complex, I-70 and Brighton Boulevard, lauds the world's oldest recorded equine breed -- a variety of steed that's both beautiful and tough -- during a three-day salute that includes a horse expo, a trade show, an art gallery, and special clinics with trainers and veterinarians. But the highlight is no doubt the spirited horseflesh itself -- in particular, that of Walter Farley's "Young Black Stallion" and Denver Broncos mascot Thunder, both of whom are scheduled to make appearances. Admission is $10 (children ages thirteen and under admitted free); proceeds benefit Special Olympics Colorado. Call 1-800-892-0682 for information or purchase tickets in advance at www.ticketswest.com.

The Vail International Summer of Dance, perhaps the state's premier ballet showcase, covers all of the genre's surprisingly spread-out bases, offering performances that range from classic to ethnic to modern -- and sometimes venturing over into an unexpected but welcome funny zone. In first position, the fest takes a flying leap into the International Evenings of Dance, the traditional Vail opener featuring principal dancers from world-class companies performing solos and pas de deux; shows begin at 7:30 p.m. tonight and tomorrow night, outdoors in Vail's Gerald Ford Amphitheater. Ensuing performances, which showcase the Cincinnati Ballet in a world-premiere work, the Victor Ullate Ballet, Buglisi/Foreman Dance, Alonzo King's LINES Ballet, Ballet Internationale, Les Ballets Africains and the comic relief -- virtuoso Ida Nevasayneva of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo performing one of prima ballerina Pavlova's signature solos, in drag -- continue at the amphitheater and the Vilar Center for the Performing Arts through August 15. For information or to reserve tickets, $17 to $85 per performance, call 1-888-920-ARTS or log on to www.vvf.org/dance.cfm.

Saturday, August 7

All hail to the men and women in the big rubber boots! Firefighters Appreciation Dayhonors a well-deserving and down-to-earth crew of folks we often take for granted, today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Denver Firefighters Museum, 1326 Tremont Place. The day's family-friendly entertainment includes fire truck rides through downtown Denver, dress-up gear to try on, hands-on rescue activities and educational programs for all ages focusing on history and fire safety. Museum admission is $2 to $4; call 303-892-1436 or go to www.denverfirefightersmuseum.org for details.

While the firefighters man their hoses downtown, local chefs from Macaroni Grill and Whole Foods will fire up in Englewood at Grillin' for Charity, a benefit raffle for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and Special Olympics. The toques will tout four top-grade outdoor grills being offered up to winning-ticket holders today from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Builders Appliance Center, 1880 West Oxford Avenue; live music and free food and drink will get the party going. Raffle tickets, $10 each, six for $50, or thirteen for $100, are available in advance; call 303-789-9945.

Local fans of pounding drum-and-bugle corps -- those young marching musician-athlete ensembles famous for their willingness to march for hours in full band gear (and a good layer of sweat) under the blazing sun -- have found their pot o' gold this year: Denver (and its resident Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps) is playing host to the 2004 Drum Corps International World Championships, considered the Super Bowl of drum corps competition. More than fifty troupes converged on the city this week for competitions in three divisions; it all culminates tonight in the big one, the Division I finals, at 5 p.m. at Invesco Field at Mile High. Hang on to your seats! Admission ranges from $25 to $80; call 1-800-495-7469 or log on to www.dci.org.

Sunday, August 8

Some of the finest dancers and drummers of West Africa will take the stage tonight at the Boulder Theater, 2032 14th Street, Boulder, when Les Merveilles de Guinea, in the area for a mountain dance retreat, close out their local residency with a public performance. The ensemble, which combines choreography, music and storytelling, headlines a show that also includes the Boulder-based group Logo Ligi and others. The program begins at 8 p.m.; a dance party with worldbeat band Fenye follows. For tickets, $20, call 303-786-7030 or go to www.bouldertheater.com.

Monday, August 9

New York Times best-selling author Jasper Fforde throws a delightful wrench into the mystery-writing formula in his Thursday Next series, which features a fantastic detective whose work meanders in and out of the plots of great literary works. Fforde will read from his latest installment, Something Rotten, tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 East First Avenue; call 303-322-7727.

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