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Five Tasty Events on the Culinary Calendar This Weekend

Have a shucking good time on National Oyster Day at Jax Fish House.
Have a shucking good time on National Oyster Day at Jax Fish House.
Courtesy of Jax Fish House.

This weekend brings a culinary cornucopia to our cow town: croquet, carnitas, cultivators and cover bands are on the calendar. Here are five crack events from August 4 through August 6, plus five more that are worth planning for.

Croquet is on the calendar this weekend.EXPAND
Croquet is on the calendar this weekend.

Friday, August 4
Are you filled with ennui over the thought of being forced to languish in the city rather than summering at your beach house in the Hamptons? Do you lament that witty banter à la Kate Hepburn and Spencer Tracy is a thing of the past? Well, dust off your mid-Atlantic accent, dears, and register for the Wickit & Stick It Croquet Tournament on Friday, August 4. From 2 to 8 p.m., the plaza behind Elway's Cherry Creek and Brio Tuscan Grill, 2500 East First Avenue, will host a 64-team tournament where prizes will be awarded for Best Dressed and Best Hat, among others, and spectators can sip martinis and nibble on cucumber sandwiches while they mingle. There's still time to sign up as a player ($50) or as a spectator ($25 for GA and $50 for VIP) at ezregister.com. Prepare to be transported back to those halcyon days when the upper crust dressed in white for croquet, and everyone else....well, let's just not talk about that.

Saturday, August 5
If you've ever wondered who raises those breakfast radishes you enjoy with bread and butter, or who cares for the cows that provide milk for Colorado cheese, you're in luck. The Colorado Department of Agriculture is kicking off Faces and Stories of Colorado Agriculture on Saturday, August 5, at the Union Station Farmers' Market, 1701 Wynkoop Street. Stop by the Colorado Proud booth from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. to meet local farmers and hear about their experiences in the field. If you can't make it out this weekend, the tour continues on Sunday, August 6, at the South Pearl Farmers' Market, in the 1200 to 1900 blocks of South Pearl Street, and on Wednesday, August 23, at the Boulder County Farmers' Market, 13th Street between Canyon Boulevard and Arapahoe Avenue in Boulder. There's more information — as well as farmer profiles and interviews — on the Colorado Proud Facebook page.

Ah, tacos. There can never be too many of the tiny, tortilla-swaddled babies. In fact, some would rather spend time with tacos than infants (tacos taste better, and they're better behaved — it's a fact). This weekend, you can get your food baby at the Sanitas Taco Fest on Saturday, August 5, from 2 to 9 p.m. Sanitas Brewing, 3550 Frontier Avenue in Boulder isn't just hosting the event; it's brewing twenty beers just for the festival. Surely you'll find something among those offerings to pair perfectly with one of the thirty tacos on offer. In addition to tacos, you'll find live music, luchadores grappling in the ring for honor and the right to keep their masks on, and piñatas for kids and adults alike; this is a kid-friendly event, so human babies under thirteen will get in free. You'll pay just $15 (admission only; tacos and beer for sale separately) or $50 (five tacos, three beers) if you're a high roller. Check out sanitastacofest.com for details and tickets.

Drink Left Hand beers at Leftapalooza.EXPAND
Drink Left Hand beers at Leftapalooza.
Brandon Marshall

Cover bands get a bad rap (we saw you roll your eyes just then) — hence the recent development of the tarted-up phrase "tribute band." But it's time for some radical honesty: You love cover bands. You love how they play only the hits; you love that you know every single lyric; you love the unabashed fandom; you love when you've had too many beers to drink it almost seems like you're seeing the real deal. Indulge in your forbidden love for cover bands at Leftapalooza, Left Hand Brewing's "tribute band" competition, on Saturday, August 5 from noon to 10 p.m. Roosevelt Park, 700 Longs Peak Avenue in Longmont, will host eight acts including Zuma (Neil Young), Loving the Alien (the late, great Bowie), Mr. Knowitall (Primus) and the legendary Hell's Belles (if you don't know by now...). General admission is just $12 at lefthandbrewing.com (though you'll have to pay for beer and food separately), while a VIP ticket includes beer and bites and tops out at an exceedingly reasonable $50.

Blue Moon Brewing is picking a fight over beer brats.EXPAND
Blue Moon Brewing is picking a fight over beer brats.
Danielle Lirette

Sunday, August 6
Celebrate summer by coming to blows with strangers at Blue Moon Brewing's Beer Brat Brawl. Normally we wouldn't resort to such violence, but, hey, it's right there in the event name; from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, August 6, the brewery at 3750 Chestnut Place will be hosting a beer brat competition. Chefs from Blue Moon, Block & Larder, Cho77, Highland Tap & Burger and Ophelia's Electric Soapbox will vie for bragging rights while guests will get four beers, five brats and access to a pulled-pork bar (now, there's something worth fighting for) for $40. Get your tickets at eventbrite.com.

Steamboat Springs hosts the Steamboat Wine Festival in August.EXPAND
Steamboat Springs hosts the Steamboat Wine Festival in August.

Wednesday, August 9, through Sunday, August 13
Mountain towns aren't cheap, but if you can swing it, there's nothing like a five-day celebration of wine and wilderness at the Steamboat Wine Festival, which runs from Wednesday, August 9, through Sunday, August 13. Events range from Wine on the Nine (golfing and drinking) to Trails and Tannins (hiking and imbibing) to Warrior and the Wine (yoga and...you get the idea) to Toast of Steamboat (the main tasting event). Tickets for individual events start at $85; steamboatwinefestival.com has a complete schedule and list of participating cellars and restaurants. Treat yourself and enjoy great wines in the great outdoors.

Thursday, August 17
If you're a regular in Denver bars and breweries, chances are you've seen the Governor (formerly Hizzoner) out and about at least once. Now's your chance to get up close and personal with Hick at Brews and Bites with Governor Hickenlooper on Thursday, August 17. The beer pairing event takes place at the Governor's Mansion, 400 Eighth Avenue, from 6 to 8:30 p.m., and allows guests access to the rooms and gardens of the residence while they enjoy beer brewed by the man himself (with assistance from Strange Craft Beer Company) along with fifteen beer-and-food pairings. Breweries on hand will include Epic, Strange, Cerebral, Ratio and the underrated Baere. Tickets ($75) are on sale at constantcontact.com.

Sunday, August 20
Tacolandia returns to Denver on August 20, and it will be bigger and better than ever — now in Civic Center Park! For $35 general admission, you get all the tacos you can eat from forty of Denver's best Mexican restaurants and taquerias. And a $75 VIP ticket gets you into the event an hour early, as well as special samplings from Jamey Fader of Lola Coastal Mexican. Find out more at westwordtacolandia.com.

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Go to Salida for the wine, stay for the whiskey.EXPAND
Go to Salida for the wine, stay for the whiskey.
Mark Antonation

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, which just celebrated its 21st year. And on Saturday, September 2, the town rounds out its alcohol portfolio with the Sixth 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 this year rather than at some point down the road, 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
Denver Food + Wine Festival is a month away, but if you're considering hitting any of the events this year, it's worth planning ahead. Early-bird tickets are now on sale, promising savings of $10 to $50 dollars, depending on what whets your appetite. And there are happenings for everyone, from the Culinary Cinema Series screening a film about barbecue to the Riedel Wine Glass Seminar (how very bougie of you) to the Grand Tasting and more. Take a look at denverfoodandwine.com for a complete schedule 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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