How to survive...a long, hot summer

Ethan Wenberg

It's hot as hell, and you've got no AC. You have two choices: Sit at home and simmer in your own bodily fluids and damp T-shirt, or get out of town. The obvious question is, where? Glenwood or Ouray? Durango or Alamosa? There's just so much to do. Don't fret: We've got you covered with this week-by-week guide of what not to miss for summer 2005.

Week 1: June 9-15
Seventh Annual Breckenridge Sk8 Contest and Summer Jam,
Breckenridge, June 11

Hooligans, unite -- and head to the Breckenridge Recreation Center for some serious thrashing. Starting at 8 a.m., skate rats of all ages will compete in the annual SK8 Above 8,000 Feet Contest to see who has the gnarliest moves. It's the perfect place to challenge that preppy skater dude who stole your girlfriend to a showdown -- or watch your kid brother skin his knees (again). But if this weekend of boarding glory doesn't satisfy you, come back on July 16 for the U.S. Championships of Skateboard Racing. Rumor has it that the Z-Boys, inspiration for the new movie Lords of Dogtown, will be there. For more information, visit or call 1-970-453-1734.

Week 2: June 16-22
Telluride Bluegrass Festival,
Telluride, June 16-19

If you're an Americana-music junkie, then you'll be hitting all of Planet Bluegrass's summer events, no matter what we say. But for those who only need a night or two of banjo pickin' and mandolin strummin', don't miss the stellar Telluride Bluegrass Festival lineup. Wilco. Jewel. Emmylou Harris. Béla Fleck Acoustic Trio. Bobby McFerrin. Leo Kottke and Mike Gordon. Split Lip Rayfield. Yonder Mountain String Band. We could keep going. The gates open at 11 a.m. on Thursday, and the music doesn't stop until Alison Krauss and Union Station leave the stage at 11 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $175 for a four-day festival pass or $55 per day. For tickets and more information, visit or call 303-823-0848.

Week 3: June 23-29
Apogaea, Happy Ass Ranch,
Lake George, June 24-26

Staged high in the mountains north of Colorado Springs, Apogaea is a more user-friendly version of the annual Burning Man Festival in northern Nevada. But it's still a visionary experiment in creativity and community, with theme camps, art installations, workshops, live performances and who knows what else. Along with your tents and stoves, pack your ideas, crazy projects and anything you may require to survive from noon on Friday until dusk on Sunday: Apogaea operates on a barter economy, which means there won't be a damn thing for sale. (Don't say we didn't warn you.) Fortunately, the people themselves are very free. (Don't say we didn't warn you.) But plan early: Only 300 people will be admitted to the camp, so you'll need a ticket in advance. For more information, visit

Week 4: June 30-July 6
Eggfest 2005,
Colorado Alligator Farm,
Mosca, July 2-4

Who knew that July is egg-laying season for hot-springs Colorado alligators? Surely not us -- but it sounds like a hell of a reason to celebrate. Head down to Mosca, just north of Alamosa, for the Colorado Alligator Farm's annual Eggfest, where you can watch alligator wranglers check nests for eggs, wrestle nesting females (the meanest gators of them all) and remove eggs for incubation. When you've had your fill of viewing near-death experiences, check out the egg race or egg toss, and chow down on an alligator burrito for lunch. One weekend of gators not enough for you? Come back August 6 and 7 for Gatorfest X, the world's only alligator rodeo. And if your balls are big enough, you might consider signing up for a gator-wrestling class. For more information, visit or call 1-719-378-2612.

Week 5: July 7-13
Crested Butte Wildflower Festival, Crested Butte,
July 11-17

Wildflower lovers of the world, flock to the official Wildflower Capital of Colorado for the annual Wildflower Festival. Choose from a range of photography workshops, hikes, walks, four-by-four tours, horseback rides, wagon rides, bicycle rides, art workshops, slide shows and classes on everything you ever wanted to know about wildflowers. You'll learn to identify them, plant them and cook with them, even how to create natural medicines with them. Sign up in advance at

Week 6: July 14-20
Dreamtime Festival,
Paonia, July 14-18

An interactive, grassroots, futuristic hoe-down, the Dreamtime Festival brings artists, teachers, dancers, fire spinners and 24-hour-party people together for three days. This will be the fourth year that Dreamtime has transformed the small Western Slope town of Paonia with multimedia art installations, DJs and live music, along with a range of workshops as eclectic as the Dreamers themselves. Past workshop topics include dream interpretation, bio-diesel, mask-making and improv. Where else can you learn to walk on stilts, do group yoga, go to a dance party and sit around a campfire in the same afternoon? For more information and tickets, visit  

Week 7: July 21-27
Cummins Rocky Mountain Truck Fest, Bandimere Speedway,
Morrison, July 24

You don't have to be a redneck to love the racetrack. On a summer evening, there are few things better than fast cars, loud music and cold beer. And it's absolute perfection if the hotrods are actually semis duking it out for king of the road. Now, that's a sight to behold. Check it out at the annual Cummins Rocky Mountain Truck Fest, where the big rigs (sans trailers, damn it!) demonstrate what's under their hoods. There's even a smokiest-burnout contest. The event revs up at 8:30 a.m. For more information, visit www. or call 303-697-6001.

Week 8: July 28-August 3
River Flicks,
Confluence Park, August 3

Vying for a spot at the Denver Film Society's Films on Fillmore is a right of passage for a Denver summer. Until you've fought through the Cherry Creek throngs to sit cheek to jowl for the pleasure of watching Blade Runner -- again -- you can't really call Denver home. Still, the city needed another downtown outdoor-film option. Thankfully, the Greenway Foundation is hosting River Flicks every Wednesday evening in August at Confluence Park. The location is scenic, surrounded by the South Platte River, city lights and the mountain range, and first-year crowds are always sparse. So pack a picnic and head down early to watch the sun set before the movie begins at dusk. But don't expect to see your favorite Tarantino opus: River Flicks features only family films. Catch E.T. on August 3, The Princess Bride on August 10, Raiders of the Lost Ark on August 17 and Shrek on August 24. For more information on the free film series, visit or call 303-455-7109.

Week 9: August 4-10
Theater in the Park,
Civic Center Park, August 5

If you've never been to Denver's summer staple Theater in the Park, you either just moved here from California or you've been living under a rock for the past fourteen years. Crawl out, dust yourself off, and make your way to the Greek Amphitheater in Civic Center Park every weekend in July and August for some quality theater, which will seem even sweeter because it's totally free. Visit or call 303-770-2106 to learn which plays you'll be attending -- or just show up at 7:30 p.m. and be amazed.

Week 10: August 11-17
Gold Rush Days,
Buena Vista, August 13-14

You'd be downright foolish to miss Gold Rush Days and the Rocky Mountain Championship Pack Burro Race, colloquially known as the third leg of the Triple Crown. If your burro isn't the next Secretariat, or if you don't have a burro (weirdo!), you can pan for gold, listen to an array of old-timey music, race a rubber duck, attend a melodrama or watch a gunfight. The festivities start at 9 a.m. Saturday morning and don't stop until 3 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, visit or call 1-719-395-6612.

Week 11: August 18-24
Basalt River Days,
Basalt, August 19-20

What's not to love about a festival whose main claim to fame is making someone kiss a dead, slimy fish? We can't think of anything. Head down to Basalt for this two-day fest celebrating everything river and small town. There's a pancake breakfast, tug-of-war competition, dunk (no, not drunk) tank, pie-baking contest (out-of-towners are welcome to submit entries), fly-casting contest and music galore. And at 5:15 p.m. on Sunday, the local leader with the most votes has to kiss a fish. Happy smooching. For more information, visit

Week 12: August 25-31
Alpine Slide,
Winter Park Resort, August 30

Okay, so we arbitrarily picked August 30 as the day to hit the Alpine Slide in Winter Park. In all truthfulness, it's open all summer and is the perfect escape when things get too steamy. Winter Park is only about an hour out of town, but it's blissfully cool and refreshing -- especially the eleven-minute ride up the hill on the chairlift. Once you're at the top, grab a kart and swoosh down the 3,000-foot-long slide -- with a 610-foot drop. Careful, though: The wind in your hair may feel great, but those damned things do tip. After the slide shuts down at 5:30 p.m., head into town for a cocktail or three. Now, that's a getaway. For more information, visit activities/alpineslide.htm.

Week 13: September 1-7
Creede Mountain Runs and Salsa Fiesta, Creede,
September 3-4

Why not run up and down a mountain to wind down the summer? On Saturday, take your pick of three different Creede Mountain Runs (or Walks): There's a two-mile course, a twelve-mile course and a punishing 22-mile course that reaches to the Continental Divide and back. The next day, make up for all those calories you burned by judging at the Salsa Fiesta. For a mere seven bucks, you can sample dozens of homemade salsas in several categories: red, green, fruit, freestyle and hot tamale -- almost too hot to eat, but not quite. Cast your vote and pick the winners. Of course, there's also the pancake breakfast from 8 to 11 a.m. on Sunday morning -- salsa optional. For more information, visit or call 1-800-327-2102. To register for the run, call 1-719-658-2925 or e-mail

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