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The Eight Best Events on the Culinary Calendar This Weekend

If you're lucky, sunchoke and ricotta-stuffed mezzaluna will be on Dio Mio's curriculum this week.
If you're lucky, sunchoke and ricotta-stuffed mezzaluna will be on Dio Mio's curriculum this week. Danielle Lirette
If you're between paychecks, this weekend has you covered with three free festivals geared toward the fall: Think chiles, chili and Germans. And if you enjoyed our recent feature on ACRES, the urban farm that serves as a classroom for Jeffco students, you can enjoy the fruits of their labors at a special dinner on September 17. Keep reading for all the details on the eight best events on the culinary calendar for September 15 through September 17.

Friday, September 15
The month is laden with Oktoberfest celebrations, so why are we writing about Parker Oktoberfest? Two words: mustache contest. Of course, the usual suspects like beer, oompah bands and dachshund races are on the schedule (no one can pass up a bevy of short-legged little hounds waddling around a field dressed in doggie lederhosen) but hirsute southern-suburb dwellers should also check out the event's Facebook page for contest sign-up instructions and a helpful infographic. O'Brien Park, 10795 Victorian Drive in Parker, hosts the festivities, and the Teutons will throw down starting Friday, September 15, at 6 p.m. The free festival runs through Saturday, September 16 (11 a.m. to 10 p.m.) and Sunday, September 17 (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.), so there's plenty of time to celebrate.

Saturday, September 16
There are few things more satisfying than a beer after a good hike — except maybe a beer in between two good hikes. Upslope Brewing Company is betting you'll agree, since its third annual Backcountry Tap Room requires you to hike in and out of the bar at Granby Ranch, 1000 Village Road in Granby, in order to get your hands on a can of its latest limited release, Outside Denali IPA. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, September 16, just $10 will get you three Upslope beers and some spectacular views from 9,200 feet above sea level. Bikers will pay $20 to take their bikes up on the chairlift, but everyone will be able to purchase food at the peak (cash only). Get your ticket at eventbrite.com. Your four-legged hiking companion is welcome, too (no ticket required). It doesn't get any more Colorado than that.

Cinco de Mayo may be a fun time to party at the nearest Tex-Mex cantina, but it’s not Mexico’s Fourth of July. Instead, the birthday of our southern neighbor comes on September 16, when Mexican Independence Day is celebrated in Mexican-American communities everywhere, including west Denver. This year’s Westwood Chile Fest will boast a “Día y Noche” (Day and Night) theme, reflected in family-friendly carnival games, farmers’ and arts-and-crafts markets, chile roasting, cultural performances, mural painting and contests during the day, and more adult fun, like dancing to live music and imbibing in the beer tent, at night. And you won’t go hungry: Food trucks will be dishing up tacos and more at the fest, which runs from 2 to 9 p.m. Saturday, September 16, at Re:Vision, 3738 Morrison Road in the Westwood neighborhood. Admission is free; get more information at bucuwestchilefest.com.

Here’s an event you’ll want to add to your calendar right meow: Caturday Night Fever! On Saturday, September 16, the Denver Zoo is rounding up a pride of food trucks to serve dinner to feline-loving visitors from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Admission to the Food Truck Safari (as the cool cats are calling it) runs $25 per adult (sorry, no cubs or infants at this one), which includes one free pour of Great Divide beer. Proceeds from the party will go toward the care and conservation of lions, tigers and fishing cats, so sharpen your fangs and claws and get ready to dig into some delicious grub. The zoo is located at 2300 Steele Street; get your tickets online at denverzoo.org.

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Learn something that's actually useful at Dio Mio's Sunday school.
Dio Mio Handmade Pasta
Sunday, September 17
The CherryArts Festival at Stanley is the hipster sibling of the Cherry Creek Arts Festival: It's younger, more obscure and out in the suburbs — at Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas Street in Aurora. But the event, produced by the same folks who put on the Cherry Creek Arts Festival, has charms all its own. One of those is Art Brunch, where hungry art aficionados can munch their way through art projects like silk screening, metalworking and jewelry making. Brunch favorites candied bacon, French croissant casserole and Bloody Marys will sustain budding artists from 10 a.m. to noon on Sunday, September 17. Nab your ticket, $45, at eventbrite.com.

My God, what do you mean you haven't been to Sunday school in years? Now's your chance to atone for your sins, at the Dio Mio Handmade Pasta class on Sunday, September 17, where you'll learn to make fresh stuffed and shaped pasta. The two-hour class starts at noon and includes wine and lunch as well as fresh, chewy pasta to take home, all for just $75 (a bargain when compared to the cost of your immortal soul). Register at nightout.com, then get over to the restaurant at 3264 Larimer Street to be absolved for all those times you went to Noodles & Co.

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Don't argue about spelling when there's a chili cookoff to attend.
Westword file photo
You say chile, I say chili (and everyone loses their shit in the comments). No, really: It's chili-with-an-i time at Boulder's Chili Bowl on Sunday, September 17. From noon to 5 p.m., Aurora Avenue between 10th and 11th streets in Boulder will be closed off to host a block party with live music, artists, pottery classes, and chili from West End Tavern, Mateo, Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant and more competing for bragging rights. The street fair itself is free, though five food samples will run you $20; Left Hand Brewing Company beer will be available for purchase to cleanse your palate. Details are up at studioartsboulder.org, and whether you say chile, chili, chilly or chillie, this should be a hot time.

Some of your favorite restaurants in town get their veggies from a surprising source: ACRES Farm at Warren Tech, an urban, year-round, organic farm run by Josh Olson (formerly of the Squeaky Bean) and tended by Warren Tech High School and Metropolitan State University students. On Sunday, September 17, at 5 p.m., the farm will host its second fundraising dinner by tapping top Denver chefs to utilize the farm's yield. Talent from Avelina, Beast + Bottle, Cart-Driver and Señor Bear will be on hand creating a seven-course dinner at the farm, 1330 West Second Place in Lakewood. Reserve your spot, $80, by calling 303-982-7889 by Friday at 11 a.m. FYI: Because the farm is on school property, this is a dry dinner, so you'll be celebrating a Broncos victory over the Cowboys with mocktails made with farm-fresh ingredients.

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Amy Antonation knows that street tacos are infinitely superior to tacos that come covered in squiggles of crema, and she will stab you with her knitting needles if you try to convince her otherwise.
Contact: Amy Antonation