This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Thursday, August 19The folks at Backpackermagazine hit the fourteener right on its tippy-top with their Get Out More! In 2004 Tour: The traveling showcase throws just about everything to do with camping, hiking and adventuring in the great outdoors into its old kit bag. Laura and Eric Poole of Backpacker will discuss trip planning, trail cooking, choosing gear and getting motivated -- while browsers get a firsthand look at all the best stuff to get them through a hike -- tonight from 7 to 9 p.m. at the REI Denver Flagship Store 1416 Platte Street. Complimentary samples and door prize giveaways top off the free event; for information, call 303-756-3100 or go to www.backpacker.com/community.

Few stage productions open themselves up to ridicule more innocently than the grand Cirque du Soleil, with its precious plots, histrionics and sideshow gyrations. But according to Colorado's A.C.E. comedy trio -- Barbara Gehring, Linda Klein and Matthew Taylor -- no Cirque production is sillier than the aquatic Las Vegas concoction O! A.C.E.'s answer to such drivel? It's Oh!, the group's gentle way of telling la Cirque to go soak its head. Performances are at 8 p.m. today through Saturday at the Buntport Theater, 717 Lipan Street; audience members are asked to bring small, submersible items. Admission is $15; call 303-322-6750 or log on to www.acecomedy.com for reservations.

Friday, August 20Littleton's Main Street Players say 42nd Street, their production for this year's Western Welcome Week, will be their last show at the Town Hall Arts Center, 2450 West Main Street in Littleton -- but what a swan song it'll be. The Broadway musical comedy is all leggy chorus line and big numbers, with a bit of A Star Is Born plot line thrown in for good measure. Showtimes are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through August 28, with additional performances at 2 p.m. August 22 and 7:30 p.m. August 26. For tickets, $17 to $20, call 303-734-1677 or log on to www.ticketswest.com.

Ladies first: Women artists take the lead when the 
Chicks With Attitude Tour stops at the Paramount  
Theatre  Monday.
Ladies first: Women artists take the lead when the Chicks With Attitude Tour stops at the Paramount Theatre Monday.

Saturday, August 21It's a festival weekend across the state, with a plethora of celebrations touting everything from art and mushrooms to historic railroads and peaches (see the Festivals and Fairs listings at www.westword.com for the lowdown), but no other event exudes more down-home cachet than the one and only Colorado State Fair, where the citified can experience The Simple Lifefirsthand. Colorado's own version pulls out of the barn today for its annual two-week run at the Colorado State Fairgrounds, 1001 Beulah Avenue in Pueblo. It's kick-started today in the Grandstand with PRCA rodeo action at 7 p.m., followed by a concert with Texas country boy Chris Cagle; adolescent pop star Stacie Orrico croons in the Events Center at 8 p.m. The fair continues through September 5; ongoing daily attractions include the usual big-name concerts, demolition derbies, pickle and llama judging, motocross shows, horse shows, Mexican rodeo and more. General gate admission is $5 to $7 (children ages six and under admitted free with a paying adult), and tickets to individual events range from $8 from $33. Call 1-800-444-FAIR or 303-830-TIXS for tickets; for information, log on to www.coloradostatefair.com.

If you believe life is like a lily pond, then dive right in. The Denver Botanic Gardens and Colorado Water Garden Society are throwing a Water Garden Spectacular today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The spectacle is centered around the DBG's gorgeous ponds, where the water lilies and other aquatic flora, some of them rare, are opening their faces to the sun in fullest splendor. Experts will answer questions, give demonstrations and lead behind-the-scenes tours throughout the day; lucky attendees will also receive a free water plant to take home, while supplies last. The DBG is at 1005 York Street, Denver; call 720-865-3500 or go to www.botanicgardens.org for details.

The talented young thespians of North High School will get a chance to strut across the big stage of the Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, when they resurrect last spring's acclaimed student musical production of Zoot Suit Riots, directed by actor and teacher José Mercado. The play, by Luis Valdez, relives the 1943 racial wars in Los Angeles from a Chicano perspective; it will be performed one time only at the Buell, tonight at 8 p.m. Break a leg, troupe! For tickets, $15 to $30, call 1-866-464-2626.

Sunday, August 22Often relegated to playing as the opening act at big-venue concerts, Los Lobos, possibly the nation's most diverse pure rock-and-roll band, always shines upon its return to the Chautauqua Auditorium, 900 Baseline Road in Boulder, where David Hidalgo, Cesar Rosas, Louis Pérez, Conrad Lozano and Steve Berlin always seem to turn performances into parties. While it's certain the boys from East L.A. will serve up tunes from their latest star-studded CD, The Ride, they also have a delightful knack for pulling one unexpected rabbit after another out of their musical hats: old hits, blues raveups, norteño classics and well-picked covers. The bottom line? They always blow the roof off. Catfish Jack opens at 8 p.m.; for tickets, $35, call 303-440-7666 or log on to www.chautauqua.com.

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