Don't go to Crested Butte this weekend without a smile on your face: You could end up on the stake during Saturday's Burning of the Grump, just one of many ancient traditions celebrated during Vinotok, the mountain town's annual medieval fall fest, which gets its curious and groggy name from the Slovenian word for "fall wine festival." Events commence tonight at 8 p.m. with a tall-tale-telling Liars Night at Eldo, a local tavern, and continue tomorrow with a pig roast and polka dance from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Crested Butte Mountain Resort's Gothic Building. And by the way, that grump? It's really just a metal-and-cloth repository for people's wadded-up complaint notes that gets paraded through town, tried by a magistrate and reveled around by the mythical Green Man and Harvest Mother (not to mention other lesser sprites) before ending up in a bonfire on Saturday night. Those Crested Butties really know how to celebrate! For information and reservations, call 1-800-814-8993 or go to www.gunnisoncrestedbutte.com.
Friday, September 24
Sometimes you've just got to take a good, long soak in what you love, which can be difficult these days if you happen to be a fan of traditional jazz, that aging stockpile of music by the likes of Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. Take heart: Summit Jazz 2004 arrives today, bringing with it many of the biggest names performing in the genre, including guitarists Bucky Pizzarelli and Howard Alden, bassist Jerry Bruno and reed player Ken Peplowski, as well as several ensembles. The weekend's musical meeting will uphold traditions with a string of daytime and evening sessions, today through Sunday at the Four Points by Sheraton Denver Southeast, 6363 East Hampden Avenue. Tickets for the annual trad-jazz whoop-de-doo are $90 to $160 for the weekend, with single-session tickets also available; call 303-670-8471 or go to www.summitjazz.com for reservations.
Saturday, September 25
You'll find at least a gazillion items worth taking home for a pittance, from cookbooks and chess sets to golf clubs and knickknacks -- and weather won't be an issue at this indoor event. But the real winners at the Furry Friends Flea Market, opening for business this morning at 8 a.m. at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall, 15200 West Sixth Avenue in Golden, will be the lost and abandoned creatures taken in by the Table Mountain Animal Center, one of the region's largest animal shelters. Admission to the overgrown yard sale is free; for details, visit www.tablemountainanimals.org.
Love a parade? Jackpot! The continuous marching at today's 61st annual University of Colorado Band Day Festival at Folsom Field kicks off with a trill and a clash this morning at 8 a.m. and won't stop until 5 p.m., as more than 3,500 student musicians in some thirty high school bands show off their well-practiced routines. CU's own Golden Buffalo Marching Band tops it all off; admission is $1 to $5 (children under six admitted free). The booming Buffs return tomorrow for a CU Fall Fest Concert at the Coors Events Center, featuring pre-concert activities and an interactive, family-friendly concert and "tuba cheer." Doors open at 3 for the 4 p.m. concert; tickets are $5 to $10 (children under twelve admitted free). For advance tickets or information about either event, call 303-492-6584 or visit www.colorado.edu/music/Bands.
Sunday, September 26
"Peacemaker" could be the Conflict Center's middle name; the Denver nonprofit is dedicated to ousting violence, particularly in families, through youth programs, counseling and mediation. That's where local storyteller Opalanga Pugh comes in: The recipient of the center's Ambassador of Peace award this year, she specializes in yarns designed to bring families together. Pugh, along with fellow tale-spinners Susan Kaplan, Vickie Samland and Israel Nuñez, will do just that during Building Families by Weaving Diverse Stories, a free program from 2 to 4 p.m. today at the center, 4141 Tejon Street. Admission is free, but reservations are required; call 303-433-4983. For information about the Conflict Center, go to www.conflictcenter.org.
Monday, September 27
New York journalist and former Denverite Julian Rubinstein found that truth is indeed stranger than fiction when he unraveled the story of Transylvanian Robin Hood Attila Ambrus for his highly entertaining book, The Ballad of the Whiskey Robber: A True Story of Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelt Smuggling, Moonlighting Detectives and Broken Hearts, a factual account set in Eastern Europe. The title nearly says it all, but Rubenstein will elucidate when he introduces and signs copies of Ballad tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 East First Avenue (call 303-322-7727). Rubenstein will regale in further detail tomorrow at a Denver Press Club Book Beat Luncheon, beginning at noon at 1330 Glenarm Place. Tickets are $17 to $20, and reservations are required; call 303-571-5260 to make yours.
Tuesday, September 28
It's safe to say that most of the people crowding into the Fillmore Auditorium tonight will be Democrats with a pointed political agenda, but if you're a serious Eagles fan (in addition to being Republican or a Nader stalwart or whatever), you might just want to put your politics aside for the evening. The grand old men of Southern California rock won't fly in at full wingspan -- only Don Henley, Glenn Frey and Timothy B. Schmit will perform at the benefit for U.S. Senate candidate Ken Salazar -- but they'll be joined on stage by Colorado hitmakers Big Head Todd and the Monsters and acoustic picker Leo Kottke, making for a full night of music and fundraising. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show are $100 (five-ticket limit per person) and can be purchased at the Fillmore box office, 1510 Clarkson Street; for details, call 303-534-9751.
Pirates and faraway places both figure heavily in Peter and the Starcatchers, a seagoing kids' adventure about an orphan, Peter, who channels J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan through Oliver Twist and Jim Hawkins and ends up somewhere over the rainbow with his brave companion, Molly. Is it a coincidence that this concoction was penned by humorist Dave Barry and his thriller-scrawling pal, Ridley Pearson? When it comes to juvenile fiction, everyone, including their other pal, Carl Hiaasen, is doing it. Ahoy, mateys: Take off for the unknown when Barry and Pearson sign their book at the Tattered Cover LoDo, 1628 16th Street, tonight at 7 p.m. Free tickets will be handed out, one per person, beginning at 6 p.m.; call 303-436-1070.
Wednesday, September 29
Drink up and feel good about it: At Wines That Cure, tonight's silent auction and wine-tasting event to benefit the Prostate Cancer Education Council, the spirits imbibed won't be the only thing contributing to your overall sense of well-being. Noshing, bidding and gracious tippling begin at 5:30 p.m. and continue until 8 at the Omni Interlocken Resort, 555 Eldorado Boulevard in Broomfield; for tickets, $30, call 303-316-4685.