Summer is waning and the kids are headed back to school. In between buying mountains of school supplies and Kleenex for your little ones' classroom, you might want to take one last weekend to celebrate the hazy, lazy days of summer as a family (or celebrate sending your spawn back to their teachers, depending on how the summer panned out). We've compiled a list of five family-friendly fairs around Colorado for you to enjoy with your kiddos.
Civic Center Park
A Taste of Colorado is Denver's Labor Day event: The festival has concerts, carnival rides and crafts for the kids, people-watching extraordinaire, and...oh, yeah, food. In addition to nibbling on a slew of deep-fried, sugar-dusted fair treats, children can enjoy a climbing wall, human hamster balls and obstacle courses. You can sip on beer or wine and eat a slightly more sophisticated berry kabob while overseeing your progeny's progress through the attractions. While admission is free, food, drink and ride tickets must be purchased on site ($10 for 15 tickets). The fun runs from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, September 1; 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, September 2, and Sunday, September 3; and 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday. For more information, visit Taste of Colorado online.
Colorado State Fair
Colorado State Fairgrounds, 1001 Beulah Avenue, Pueblo
The Colorado State Fair is winding down over Labor Day weekend, but there is still plenty of wholesome fun to be had. From 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday, September 1, through Monday, September 4, just $10 will get you through the gate and into a world of cotton candy, pig races, monster trucks, funnel cakes, exotic birds and sea lion shows. (It costs $7 for kids five to twelve and is free for those under five.) There are also carnival rides for just a buck per ride, or $30 for unlimited turns. Go to Colorado State Fair online for a complete schedule.
Steamboat Springs Airport, 34985 Airport Circle, Steamboat Springs
If you're looking to escape the heat in Denver, perhaps you'd like to head up the hill to Steamboat Springs, where the Wild West Air Fest will be going on from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, September 2. There will be a World War II bomber performing a bombing simulation, aerobatics and formation flying; your little top gun will even be able to don a flight suit and helmet and sit in a fighter-jet cockpit. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children six to twelve, and free for kids under six. Details are online at the Steamboat Chamber of Commerce. Just don't take the little ones to the nearby Strawberry Park Hot Springs after dark — it's definitely not for the whole family.
Memorial Park, 1705 East Pikes Peak Avenue, Colorado Springs
If you're a morning person, take advantage of it by bundling the kids into the car and taking an early morning drive down to Colorado Springs for the Labor Day Lift Off. What could be the most eclectic celebration in the state kicks off at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 2, with the ascent of over sixty hot-air balloons and runs through Monday, September 4. Stick around throughout the day for chainsaw carving demos, doughnut-eating contests, skydiving displays, wakeboarding competitions and paddle yoga (where you really test your balance by holding a warrior pose on a stand-up paddleboard). The best part? Other than gas money, this is a free event. Check it out at Colorado Springs Labor Day Lift Off.
Memorial Park, 606 Manitou Avenue, Manitou Springs
For those who want to head south of Denver and still sleep in, the Commonwheel Art Festival in Manitou Springs might fill the bill. The juried show runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, September 2, through Monday, September 4; it boasts 100 artists, as well as a kids' arts and crafts zone with live music, face painting, art projects and balloon animals. If you couldn't afford to pick up any trinkets at the Cherry Creek Arts Festival this year, take heart: This free show is guaranteed to be a lot more affordable (and a lot less fussy).
Looking for more to do? Visit the Westword calendar online.