Colorado celebrated its 140th birthday on August 1. Because it was admitted to the Union on the hundredth anniversary of this country’s declaration of independence, it was quickly nicknamed the Centennial State. But to us, it’s always been Coolorado, the coolest state around, and the thousands of people moving here every month clearly agree. But what, exactly, makes Colorado so hot? As both a primer for newcomers and a refresher course for natives, we’re sharing more than a hundred cool things about Colorado, including these ten amazing annual events:
10. Madam Lou Bunch Day
Every June, the old mining town of Central City honors the memory of good-hearted madam Lou Bunch with bed races down the center of the street. Get the 2017 schedule at centralcitycolorado.us.
9. Mike the Headless Chicken Festival
Fruita honors Mike, the chicken that would not die, every June. In 1945, a farmer’s ax took off Mike’s head but did not sever his brain stem, and the bird lived another eighteen months — long enough to tour the country as Mike the Headless Wonder Chicken and inspire this annual festival. Find out more at miketheheadlesschicken.org.
8. Manitou Springs Fruitcake Toss
The fruitcakes fly every January in Manitou Springs, where everyone’s least-favorite holiday dessert is celebrated not just with the traditional toss (bonus: fruitcakes can be reused each year), but with a costume competition and bake-off, as well. Watch visitcos.com/fruitcake-toss for next year’s date.
7. National Western Stock Show and Rodeo
The National Western is the largest stock show and rodeo in the world, so full of Western fun and funnel cakes that it will stretch from January 7 through January 22 in 2017 — and is the focal point of a billion-dollar project to keep it in Denver. Find out more at nationalwestern.com.
6. Colorado Championship Ranch Rodeo
Party with the real pros in Hugo every year, where working ranch cowboys compete at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds. This is one of Colorado’s most down-home events; watch for next year’s schedule on coloradochampionshipranchrodeo.com.
Keep reading for five more amazing annual events in Colorado.
5. Frozen Dead Guy Days
For the past fifteen years, Nederland has been honoring its iciest resident, Bredo Morstol, who is frozen in a stage of suspended animation and housed on dry ice in a Tuff Shed in the hills, always ready to be the life of the party. The 2017 festival is set for March 10-12; go to frozendeadguydays.org for details.
4. Emma Crawford Festival
Since 1995, Manitou Springs has held an annual festival in honor of Emma Crawford, who came to the mountain town for a cure but succumbed to tuberculosis in 1891. Her dying wish was to be buried on the top of Red Mountain, but she didn’t last there: Her remains washed down the side of the mountain in 1929. The 19th Annual Coffin Race and Parade will run from noon to 4 p.m. on October 29; find out more at emmacrawfordfestival.com.
3. Olathe Sweet Corn Festival
This annual festival is plenty corny, but it’s a sweet fundraiser for the Montrose Community Foundation, full of games, live music and corn, of course. Get the details on the 2017 festival at olathesweetcornfest.com.
2. Great American Beer Festival
From its humble origins in 1982, the GABF has grown into one of the biggest, beeriest festivals in the world, winner of the Guinness World Record for the largest variety of beers ever served in one place at one time. The gang’s all beer at the Colorado Convention Center October 6 through October 8, when the GABF returns for its 35th-anniversary year. Tickets sold out in just about an hour for this year's fest; find out more at greatamericanbeerfestival.com.
1. Colorado State Fair
Every county around Colorado has a county fair with its own charms, but for a real taste of Colorado farm life — not to mention funnel cake — head to the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo. This year's ten-day extravaganza starts August 26; get full details at coloradostatefair.com.
What's your favorite annual event in Colorado? Leave a comment and tell us.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.