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The Ten Tastiest Events on the Culinary Calendar This Weekend

Fun and games at Townie Fest 2016.
Fun and games at Townie Fest 2016.
Courtesy of Big Red F
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Pooches, pig bowls and pugilists are only part of the proceedings in town this weekend. Peruse this prospectus and pick up your passports to the fun; here are ten of the tastiest events from Friday, August 25, through Sunday, August 27. And keep reading for more events through September to put on your culinary calendar.

Skyline Beer Gardens turns into RiNo this weekend.
Skyline Beer Gardens turns into RiNo this weekend.
Courtesy of Downtown Denver Partnership

Friday, August 25
The 16th Street Mall and RiNo are barely a mile from each other, but as any Denver resident knows, they're actually worlds apart. But on Friday, August 25, RiNo will make an incursion into the city's center of fast-food restaurants and shlocky T-shirt shops with the DRiNK RiNo Tap Takeover at Skyline Beer Garden, 1601 Arapahoe Street. From 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., beverages from seven north Denver brewers and cider makers will be on tap; now's your chance to taste brews from Beryl's Beer Co., Epic Brewing Co., Bierstadt Lagerhaus, Mockery Brewing, Ratio Beerworks, Stem Ciders and Great Divide Brewing Co. in one sitting, without having to get a Lyft or stagger around the neighborhood. We'll toast to that.

Fun and games at Townie Fest 2016.EXPAND
Fun and games at Townie Fest 2016.
Courtesy of Big Red F

Saturday, August 26
So that dream of vacationing on an island paradise hasn't come to fruition this year. All is not lost, intrepid traveler. Slap on your best sun hat and travel south to Civic Green Park, 9730 Ridgeline Boulevard in Highlands Ranch, where the Pi'ilani Hawaiian Civic Club will be hosting Ho'olaule'a 2017, its celebration of all things Hawaiian. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, August 26, the islands will take over the park with hula, Polynesian music (including a jam session, so bring your ukulele), Hawaiian art and, of course, food. Kalua pig bowls will be available courtesy of the club, and food trucks Mauna Snoa and No Ke Aloha will be dishing up shave ice and Spam musubi. Admission is free, but you'll have to pony up for food and beers; find all the details at the event Facebook page. It's the leading contender for our newest Best of Denver award: Best Island Experience in a Landlocked State.

The Post Brewing Co., 105 West Emma Street in Lafayette, is celebrating townies (beer and people) with its second annual Townie Fest from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, August 26. The event benefits the Fill the Boot campaign, which raises money for muscular dystrophy patients and their families. While contributing to a good cause, you can also enjoy the Post's lauded fried chicken and some of the more creative games on the festival scene — human foosball, chicken toss and chicken head relay, for starters. Prizes are generous: A trip for two to Chicago and tickets to the Great American Beer Festival (already sold out) are among them. Tickets range from $20 to $84 on eventbrite.com, depending on how many beers you'll drink and how many events you'll enter. And if you're not really from Lafayette? Relax — no one's checking addresses at the door.

If a dog looks at you like this, you have to adopt it.EXPAND
If a dog looks at you like this, you have to adopt it.

The Humane Society of the South Platte Valley (and possibly a canine resident or two) will benefit from your generosity at the first Barks & Brews festival on Saturday, August 26. Bring your pooch over to the Outlets at Castle Rock, 5050 Factory Shops Boulevard, for a beer (you, not the dog), food-truck snacks and a costume contest (your dog, not you) from 1 to 3 p.m. If you don't have a furry family member, stick around until 2 p.m., when homeless hounds will be available for adoption. There's no cost to attend the fest, but a donation of $5 per beer is requested; it will go to help the Humane Society feed, house and care for adoptable animals.

The school of hard knocks comes to Denver on Saturday, August 26, with two separate events that will have competitors seeing stars while ticket holders kick back with craft beers. In Glendale, Bruises and Brews hits Infinity Park, 4400 East Kentucky Avenue, with the RugbyTown Sevens tournament (a fast-paced version of standard rugby) and a beer festival pouring suds from more than twenty brewers from noon to 4 p.m. Tickets are $35 at glendalebeerfest.com. And for indoor action, you won’t want to miss the freewheeling Brews and Bruises, a beer celebration to help send Denver Roller Derby’s all-star team, the Mile High Club, to the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association playoffs. While there won’t be a roller derby match, you’ll get to mingle with the ladies on the team while enjoying Colorado craft beers, food-truck fare, live music and other entertainment. Get tickets, $27, at denverrollerderby.org, then roll on over to the Exdo Event Center, 1399 35th Street, from 1 to 5 p.m.

The Levitt Pavilion Beer Festival includes good beer and good music.
The Levitt Pavilion Beer Festival includes good beer and good music.
Brandon Marshall

Another beer festival in Denver isn't anything new, but the Levitt Pavilion Denver, 1380 West Florida Avenue, is. And you can enjoy the city's newest concert venue at the Levitt Pavilion Beer Festival on Saturday, August 26. From 4 to 7 p.m., you'll get unlimited beer from the likes of FATE Brewing Co., Platt Park Brewing Co., Declaration Brewing Co. and Cerebral Brewing. After the beer is gone, you can sober up to a free concert by Karl Denson's Tiny Universe. Unlike most of the events at the venue, this one isn't free to the public; tickets will run you $25 or $65 for VIP (includes private restrooms, catered snacks, a goody bag and up-close seating for the show). Check out the Facebook event page for all participating breweries, and get your tickets at levittdenver.org.

You know the farm-to-table trend has officially jumped the shark when joints brand themselves as farm-to-table sports bars; nevertheless, there is some surreal pleasure in being able to munch on a beef-cheek burger while watching the big fight. And that's exactly what you can do at Element Kitchen & Cocktail, 1134 Broadway, on Saturday, August 26. Guarantee your seat for the Mayweather v. McGregor fight; for $30 per head (individual bar seating and  two-, four- and six-tops are available), you'll get reserved seats and passed apps for the first hour. Get your tickets at nightout.com.

Sunday, August 27
Brunch is Denver’s favorite meal; there’s no better way to roll out of bed and cure a hangover than with loaded breakfast platters and morning cocktails. Denver BrunchFest will bring some of the city’s best brunch destinations to one spot for an outdoor celebration of eggs, pancakes, mimosas and Bloody Marys. BrunchFest hits Civic Center Park, Broadway and Colfax Avenue, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, August 27, with tickets priced at $65 for general admission and $95 for the Brunch Club Express Pass, which gets you in the gates at 10:30 a.m. and gives you access to express bar lines. Find out more and purchase tickets at eventbrite.com.

After Sunday brunch, you know you want dessert. Little Man Ice Cream, 2620 16th Street, is happy to oblige, and is making the already kid-centric spot even more enticing to your little ones with its Canteloupe Coloring Contest on Sunday, August 27. From 2 to 4 p.m., children (and their artistic parents) can reproduce a canteloupe display and win prizes for the best renditions. If you're more left-brained, you can take solace in Little Man's limited-edition flavor, Rocky Ford Watermelon Mojito sorbet, while contemplating the many melons on display on Colorado's Western Slope. Hmmm, maybe this event isn't as family-friendly as it seems.

If you can't bear the thought of going back to work on Monday morning, consider getting the hell out of Dodge with Dinner on the Divide at Devil's Thumb Ranch on Sunday, August 27. Old Major's Justin Brunson is heading up into the hills to cook some Wagyu beef at an outdoor dinner with truly spectacular views. It's a bit of a drive up to the ranch at 3530 County Road 83 in Tabernash, but you can look forward to classic Colorado vistas on the way up and perhaps even a spa treatment before dinner. Cocktails start at 5 p.m.; reserve your seat ($95) by calling 970-726-7013. Dinner guests even get special pricing on a room that night, so you can delay the dreaded workweek for one more day. For more information, see the ranch's website.

And if you're planning ahead...

Cafe Brazil will feed your stomach while the Black Americas Pop-Up Dinner feeds your mind.
Cafe Brazil will feed your stomach while the Black Americas Pop-Up Dinner feeds your mind.

Monday, August 28
This is one event you'll want to act on immediately: On Monday, August 28, The Black Americas Project is presenting its final Black Americas Pop-Up Dinner. (We tried to write about the first two for you, but they sold out in two shakes of a lamb's tail.) From 6 to 8 p.m., join James Beard Award-winning author Adrian Miller and Mayor Michael Hancock at Cafe Brazil, 4408 Lowell Boulevard, for an exploration of African influences in Brazil. While you're getting an education, you'll also get a bellyful of delicious Brazilian cuisine: Sweet potato and shrimp croquettes in a cayenne Bechamel, and blackened cod with dende oil and fresh coconut meat are just two dishes on the menu. Get your tickets (soon!) at biennialoftheamericas.org, where you can find individual tickets for $85 or a pair for $160. All proceeds will go back to the project, which looks at the influence of the African diaspora in the Americas.

Thursday, August 31
The 5th Annual Chef and Brew Festival returns to Exdo Event Center, 3500 Walnut Street, for a night of indulgence on Thursday, August 31. Participating restaurants will team up with local breweries to pair small plates with craft beers — and each team will provide at least two different plates and two different beers, giving guests a whopping forty pairs to sample (so far). Teams to watch? Wit's End Brewing Co. and Hearth & Dram, Ratio Beerworks and Fish N Beer, and Crooked Stave and Citizen Rail. The event runs from 7 to 10 p.m. and will set you back $49, though a VIP ticket will get you in an hour early (and at $69 is probably worth it to beat the crowds). Get your tickets and a full list of competitors at chefandbrew.com.

Saturday, September 2
Salida is better known for FIBArk than fermentation, though that's changing with Wood's High Mountain Distillery and the annual Brewer's Rendezvous, now in its 21st year. And on Saturday, September 2, the town rounds out its alcohol portfolio with the 6th Annual Salida Winefest. Eighteen Colorado wineries will set up shop in beautiful Riverside Park from 1 to 6 p.m., where attendees can spread out on the banks of the Arkansas River while sipping their way through unlimited wine samples. If you're a locavore oenophile with early-onset grumpiness (is there any other kind?), we suggest hitting this festival sooner rather than later, so you can spend the next six years complaining about how much better the fest was when nobody knew about it. Tickets are a steal at $20; get them at salidawinefest.com.

Tuesday, September 5, through Sunday, September 10
The Denver Food + Wine Festival is less than a month away, and if you're considering hitting any of the events this year, it's time to get moving. Tickets are on sale now, and depending on what whets your appetite, they'll set you back a very reasonable $40 to a steep $195 — and there's even a VIP Grand Tasting ticket available for $250 if you want to go all in. Our pick? The Culinary Cinema Series will screen the documentary Barbecue on Tuesday, September 5, at 7 p.m. at the Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue. The movie is sure to make your mouth water, which won't be a problem, as the $40 ticket includes bites from Hearth & Dram, Rolling Smoke Bar-B-Que and the Nickel; drinks will be available for purchase at the theater's bar. Snag tickets and find the rest of the festival's schedule at denverfoodandwine.com.

Wine in Breckenridge: What could go wrong?
Wine in Breckenridge: What could go wrong?
Kerrianne Photography

Thursday, September 14 through Sunday, September 17
Fall is grape-harvesting season in the Centennial State, and it seems every mountain town is celebrating the season with a wine festival in August and September. From Thursday, September 14, through Sunday, September 17, it's Breckenridge's turn to lure the bikers, hikers and drinkers up the hill with gorgeous fall weather and great wines at the Breckenridge Wine Classic. There are luncheons, seminars, tours, hikes, tastings and bike rides to be had — all of them geared toward highlighting the beverage of honor. The best part about Breckenridge's celebration? Its proximity to Denver: You'll barely have to spend ninety minutes commuting to feel like you're in a different world (though the drive back to Denver might be a different story). A full schedule is up, and tickets ($55 to $145) are on sale now at breckenridgewineclassic.com.

Okonomiyaki will be on the menu at the Annual Den Rooftop Party.
Okonomiyaki will be on the menu at the Annual Den Rooftop Party.
Mark Antonation

Tuesday, October 3, and Wednesday, October 4
The Den brothers are throwing a party, and you'll want to add this to your social calendar. On Tuesday, October 3, and Wednesday, October 4, the roof of the parking garage at the corner of South Pearl Street and East Florida Avenue will turn into a veritable Japanese street fair from 5 to 9 p.m. Not only will Toshi and Yasu Kizaki be providing food from Sushi Den, Izakaya Den and Ototo, but they've called on twenty of their Japanese chef friends to hop the pond and lend their talents to the rooftop party. Expect ramen, yakisoba noodles, the hard-to-find-in-Denver okonomiyaki, yakiniku (Japanese barbecue) and lots, lots more. Tickets are $75 and include three drinks (additional beverages will be available for purchase). As with every party the Kizakis host, this one is likely to sell out, so check out sushiden.net ASAP for details and tickets.

See the Westword calendar for even more food and drink events, and if you know of a date that should be on this calendar, send information to cafe@westword.com.

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