There are festivals for everything this weekend — honey, October, chiles, immigrants and beer (some things are eternal). Pick your favorite and start your celebration: Here are the six best events on the culinary calendar from September 22 through September 24.
Friday, September 22
Roll out the barrel — and the tubas, steins, lederhosen and dirndls – as Denver Oktoberfest ushers in another season of festive Bavarian tradition. Since 1969, the German celebration has been part of Denver's history, beginning on Larimer Square and then moving to Larimer Street between 20th and 22nd streets. The gemütlichkeit (that's good vibes to you) will start flowing at 11 a.m. Friday, September 22, with food, music, competitions, polka and, of course, plenty of German and American beer. The fun continues until 9 p.m., then repeats during the same hours on Saturday, September 23. Can't find the wiener dogs? Come back on September 29 and 30 for the Long Dog Derby, more pretzels and sausages, and live music from the Milk Blossoms and DJ Chonz. The party is free, but you'll need to purchase tickets to exchange for beer; food vendors will accept cash and credit cards. VIP tickets, which cover a T-shirt, mug, unlimited food and other goodies, can be purchased at thedenveroktoberfest.com. Prost!
There are not a lot of good reasons to endure the drive to Pueblo, but the annual Chile and Frijoles Festival is one of them. From Friday, September 22, through Sunday, September 24, you'll be enveloped by the smell of roasting chiles — the quintessential fall aroma — as you pull up to Union Avenue in downtown Pueblo. It's our favorite fall fest: There's plenty of fried fair food, baskets of Pueblo chiles waiting to be roasted and loaded into plastic bags for their trip home to your freezer, air-conditioned bars along the street serving pale yellow beer to quench your thirst and soothe your palate, and tents hosting ’80s glam-rock cover bands. The festival runs from 3 p.m. to midnight Friday, 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, and admission is a mere $3. And if you haven't filled up on funnel cake, get an iconic Pueblo slopper before hitting the road back to Denver. Find out more at pueblochamber.org.
Saturday, September 23
Who says the suburbs never have any fun? On Saturday, September 23, the Lone Tree Chamber of Commerce will host a food festival worth a trek from the heart of town. Forks, Corks and Ales will set up at Park Meadows Retail Resort, 8401 Park Meadows Center Drive, with plenty of wine, beer and food from area restaurants all day at the festival, which runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. There will also be live music, including an appearance by the Samples. Admission is only $10 for adults and even less for the kids; be sure to bring extra cash if you want full pours from the bar or a little something special from the festival's marketplace. Go to lonetreechamber.com for advance tickets and more information. There's more than just soccer fields and parking lots out there!
The Aurora Cultural Arts District continues to find new ways to celebrate its diversity and introduce the rest of the region to its unique multicultural makeup. New this summer, the ImmiFest (short for the Colorado Immigrant Festival) is another link in that effort, shedding light on a quartet of Aurora’s major resident immigrant groups, including folks hailing from Africa, Southeast Asia, Mexico and the Caribbean, over four months. September's installment showcases Hispanic cultures thriving in Aurora with a mixture of Mexican and South American food, drink, dance and products, and includes a special focus on ACAD’s fair-trade ACADIA Project immigrant creative community. Get a taste of the real Aurora from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, September 23, at ACAD Studios & Galleries, 1400 Dallas Street in Aurora. Admission is free. The final mini-fest celebrates the Caribbean on October 28; get more information at immifest.com.
Want a pet, but your apartment building doesn't allow them? Consider beekeeping! The little guys are so quiet, your neighbors will never know they're there! Just kidding — don't do that (or at least don't tell your landlord this is where you got the idea). But if you have the outdoor space and have been considering getting started with hives, the Colorado Honey Festival is a great place to begin. Saturday, September 23, is dedicated to all things apian at the Four Seasons Farmers and Artisans Market, 7043 West 38th Avenue in Wheat Ridge. From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., you can attend a Beekeeping 101 class, learn what plants are good for the striped pollinators, network with other beekeepers and find out firsthand what they make with their honey and beeswax hauls. The event is totally free; see the Facebook page for more details.
Sunday, September 24
State 38 Distilling's The Corner Saloon, 1123 Washington Avenue in Golden, will soon be a thing of the past, as the distillery is closing down the bar in a few short months. But you still have time to make one last pilgrimage and save some money, too: On Sunday, September 24, at 3 p.m., the saloon is offering buy one, get half off specials on cocktails. If you show up before 3 p.m.? No worries: Enjoy the game without ever finishing your drink, as bottomless cocktails are just $20. Saying goodbye has never been so enjoyable.
Plan ahead for the following food and drink events....
Wednesday, September 27, through Sunday, October 1
Boulder's Flatirons Food Film Festival is turning five this year; in its relatively short history, it has built a following based on movies packed with images of cameras slowly panning over gorgeously plated food and earnest chef interviews — in short, food porn. This year's lineup doesn't disappoint: From documentaries about the legendary James Beard to a con man scamming the high-end wine market to foodie classics like Ratatouille and Eat Drink Man Woman, the festival has something for everyone. You can even get your little ones involved with a farmers' market tour and cooking demo geared toward kids. Most events are $10, and a pass for the entire festival is a steal at just $65. Check out flatironsfoodfilmfest.org for details.
Tuesday, October 3, and Wednesday, October 4
The Den brothers are throwing a party, and you'll want to add it 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). And this party is for a good cause (or three) — proceeds benefit hurricanes Irma and Harvey relief efforts in Florida and Texas, as well as earthquake relief efforts in Kumamoto, Japan, the hosts' hometown. As with every party the Kizakis host, this one is likely to sell out, so check out sushiden.net asap for details and tickets.
Wednesday, October 4
Matt and Carrie Stein's unpretentious seafood restaurant, Chowder Room, 560 South Broadway, is joining the GABF fun on Wednesday, October 4, at 6 p.m. with an eight-course beer dinner. Great Divide Brewing will provide the suds, and reps will be on hand to talk about the pairings and answer questions. Unlike many GABF events, this will be a civilized evening. No rushing the bar to be the first to get that hip new pour, no beard-to-beard, standing-room-only crowds crammed into a too-small, too-hot space — just the Steins' easy, genuine hospitality and a great dinner that will leave you feeling nourished and ready to take on the rest of the fest. Call the restaurant, 303-777-3474, to reserve your seat ($75).
Friday, October 13
Everyone knows that fall is the season for heavier things — sweaters, socks and drinks. One of our favorite fall and winter pastimes (and make no mistake, winter is coming) is enjoying a generous pour of whiskey and a cigar by a crackling fireplace. Bonus points if there's a bear-skin rug on the floor. So prepare for the season by tasting and testing a wealth of whiskeys at The WhiskyX on Friday, October 13, from 7 to 10 p.m. Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum, 7711 East Academy Boulevard, will host more than fifty whiskeys, and VIP ticket holders will have access to food from premier Denver chefs Elise Wiggins (Cattivella), Jennifer Jasinski (Ultreia, Euclid Hall, Rioja, etc.) and Paul C. Reilly (Beast + Bottle and Coperta). Tickets ($75 or $125) are on sale now at thewhiskyx.com.
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Sunday, October 15
Mark your calendars: Westword's annual celebration of Denver's dining scene is moving inside and uptown. On Sunday, October 15, Feast will fill the McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue, with more than forty eateries that are favorites of Westword writers and readers; they'll be serving a wealth of nibbles that you can wash down with unlimited drink samples from Feast's liquor sponsors. Get more information and tickets at westwordfeast.com.
Sunday, October 15, through Thursday, October 19
Nights are getting cooler — you may have even broken out your fall quilt already. That means it's the perfect time to start planning for EatDenver's 2017 Harvest Week. This year, the week of dinners will highlight two to three farms per night, representing five of Colorado’s farming regions. The lineup: October 15, Western Slope; October 16, Front Range; October 17, Eastern Plains; October 18, Four Corners; October 19, Urban Farm. All dinners are at the GrowHaus, 4751 York Street, which transforms from an industrial urban farm into a suprisingly twinkly and comfortable dinner venue. Tickets, $85, are now on sale at harvestweek.com.