The Colorado Country Music Hall of Fame Fourth Annual Festival has earned the sort of official endorsement that arts groups dream about. Governor Bill Owens christened the third full week in August "Country Music Week," recognizing the cultural value of the nonprofit CCMHOF and its yearly celebration of in-state twang. Nice work, Governor. The festival continues through the weekend with a series of competitions for everything from Band of the Year to best instrumentalist, dancer, DJ, country comedian and more. (Lee Sims, pictured above, was last year's Entertainer of the Year.) Competitions feature bushels of local acts; they're free and open to folks of all ages and take place at American Legion Post 193, 5110 Morrison Road. (Admit it: You've always wanted to drain a longneck in a Legion hall.) The festivities culminate on Sunday, August 25, with a black-tie-optional awards ceremony at the Lakewood Elks Lodge (1455 Newland Street) that will feature live music and induction of this year's CCMHOF winners. (Get details by visiting www.ccmhof.org or by calling 303-745-4781.) All told, these days of music, trophies and wholesome fellowship stack up like a local version of Nashville's Country Music Association bash -- one that honors folks who actually play country music. Break that cowboy hat -- and your secret love of country -- out of the closet and join the hootenanny. -- Marty Jones
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