Chile & Frijoles Festival (Pueblo)

What: Chile & Frijoles FestivalChile & Frijoles Festival (Pueblo)
Where: Downtown Pueblo – 1st and Union
When: 3rd Weekend after Labor Day in September
Friday, 3:00 PM –11:00 PM
Saturday, 10:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Sunday, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

2011 Update:  We’ve learned that the Festival will be charging a small fee (admission $2; kids 12 and under-free) starting this year. Since this was one of the first items we listed on this site, we’ll keep this page online so people know about the change.

Ahhh, the incredible aroma of roasting chilies turning over hot flames! Sample a variety of salsas made by local farmers as you admire colorful Ristras – chilies tied on a string. Unfortunately, the displays of frijoles – that’s “beans” in case you didn’t know – aren’t quite as exciting to the nose and eyes. Not to worry! Kids can participate in The Art of the Bean, where they compete in age groups for the best sculpture constructed completely using beans (and mostly Pinto beans at that). Or check out the Great Bean Spit Off. Both bean-spitting accuracy and power will be judged. If the kids are still looking for something to do after all that excitement, send them over to the Piñata breaking area where they can let off a little steam.

Both commercial and non-commercial competitions are held for best Red Chili, Green Chili, and salsa recipes. The “Holy Frijoles” Cooking contest features cooked beans (again, Pintos must be the predominant ingredient). The public can help judge the Best Bean Dip in Pueblo by stopping at participating shops along Union Avenue for a sample and to place their votes. We suggest you try to schedule sampling the bean dips before you participate in the Jalapeño Eating contest.

Chile & Frijoles Festival (Pueblo)If you’ve had your fill of chile and frijoles for a while, check out the farmer’s market, the fine art show, live entertainment, and our favorite, the “Salsa & Cerveza” Brew Fest. Sorry, the brews aren’t free. 

Finally, for you car-buffs out there, the Festival often includes one or more car shows to participate, so watch for Corvettes or other cool cars at the festival.


For more information, contact:
Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce

Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre (Denver)

What: Red Rocks Park & AmphitheatreRed Rocks Amphitheatre (Denver CO)
Where: Denver
WhenVisitor Center:  Summer hours (May-Sept): 8:00 AM – 7:00 PM daily
Winter hours (October-April): 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM daily

The Beatles. Lyle Lovett. Sting. Al Jarreau. Allman Brothers Band. Earth, Wind & Fire. Rage Against the Machine. Itzhak Perlman. Grateful Dead. Paul Simon. U2. Smothers Brothers. Igor Stravinsky. Joe Cocker. Peter, Paul and Mary. Emmy Lou Harris. Al Hirt. Santana. Indigo Girls. Sheryl Crow. Phish. Willie Nelson. Roseanne.  Count Basie. Victor Borge. Widespread Panic. 

From Opera to Rock, Jazz to Reggae, Folk to Swing, Classical to Country; all types of musical performances have occurred at this spectacular natural amphitheatre since the early 1900s. In 1911, a famous opera star of the time traveled up to Red Rocks by burro to try out the acoustics and declared, “never in any opera house the world over have I found more perfect acoustic properties.”

How old is this amphitheater? Look at the 300-foot-high red sandstone cliffs on either side of the seating area. Ship Rock and Creation Rock have probably been standing here for over 250,000 years. The seats, stage, and other man-made additions were built from 1936 through 1947, designed with an emphasis on preserving the natural beauty of the area.

During the day, or late into the evening when no concert is scheduled, you can come explore this beautiful concert venue. Stand in front of the stage and speak to friends watching from high above in the last row of seats. Imagine thousands of fans anticipating the start of a concert. From the seating area, enjoy the panoramic views of Denver in the distance.

Red Rocks amphitheatre park (Denver CO)When you’re done exploring the amphitheatre, don’t miss the captivating Visitor Center, which opened in 2003. The Visitor Center is tucked under the seating, so it made a minimal impact on the appearance of the area. Watch a 10-minute film that describes the history – both natural and musical – of the park. Reminisce as you view concert posters from the past 40 years, see instruments belonging to favorite musicians, or use the interactive computer terminals to find out who performed here or to remember a special concert. Enjoy a relaxing meal at the Ship Rock Grille, a full-service restaurant located in the Visitor Center building.

Do you still have some energy left? Explore the paths around the amphitheatre, or hike the rugged 1.4 mile Trading Post loop trail, which will take you through marvelous rock formations, meadows, and valleys. Remember that rock climbing in this park is strictly prohibited, and failure to comply with this rule carries a large fine. The trail closes ½ hour before sunset.

This is a Denver-area classic, not to be missed!

For more information, contact:
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
16352 County Road #93
Morrison, CO 80465

(303) 295-4444 or (303) 640-2637

Additional directions:
Red Rocks Amphitheatre is located near Morrison, 15 miles west of downtown Denver. From I-70 take the Morrison exit (259). At the bottom of the exit ramp turn south (left, if you were driving Westbound on I-70) onto CO 93 and continue about 1.5 miles to the signed entrance on your right. Note: turn left at this intersection to visit Dinosaur Ridge.

Folk Dancing (Boulder)

What: Folk Dancing for EveryoneFolk Dancing in Boulder CO
Where: Boulder
When: Tuesday evenings during the warmer months – Free Lessons from 7:00 to 8:00 PM; dancing goes on until 10:00 PM

Do warm evenings just make you want to get up and dance? Well, you’re not the only one! Even if you haven’t the slightest idea how to folk dance, here’s your opportunity to kick up your heels, enjoy the wonderful Boulder outdoors, meet fun people, get some exercise, and have a lot of fun.

Tom Masterson, choreographer and teacher for Postoley Dance Ensemble, is coordinator (or should that be “coordinated”? — probably both descriptions of Tom are accurate) of this weekly get-together. He specializes in Russian and Ukrainian dances, while other guest artists, including Boulder International Folk Dancers, will feature Israeli, Scandinavian, and other regional folk dancing.

Folk DancingWith magical, sometimes-unpronounceable names like Schuhplattler, Mazurka, Tirge, Kleistos, and Nevestinskoto, an exotic experience is sure to follow. Then again, you may learn some dances with more familiar names like Irish Dance, Hora (Israel), Jig, Reel, Hula, Square Dance, Polka, etc. No matter what themes the evening takes on, a good time will be had by all.

For more information, contact:
Postoley Dance Ensemble
250 31st St.
Boulder, CO 80305

Additional directions:
The dancing takes place at Boulder Municipal Plaza just off 13th Street between Canyon & Arapahoe beside Dushanbe Teahouse & Farmer’s market.

Cinco de Mayo (Denver)

What: Cinco de Mayo CelebrationCinco de Mayo performers
Where: Denver – Civic Center Park
When: Saturday & Sunday (closest to May 5th) from 10 AM to 8 PM

!Fiesta! Come along with us and be entertained.

Cinco de Mayo (“5th of May”) is a celebration of Denver’s Latino culture and heritage. It commemorates the Mexican army’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. But, it’s more than that. Cinco de Mayo is a time for festivities galore.

The Denver Cinco de Mayo Cultural Celebration had its beginning in 1987 and has grown each year into what is now recognized as the largest such event in the United States, and it just keeps getting bigger. This outstanding event attracts in excess of 400,000 people of all ages and cultural backgrounds.

Cinco de Mayo arts & craftsMariachi bands, live performances on multiple stages, children’s activities, piñatas, a variety of dance troops, a parade; Cinco de Mayo is a happening, an event not to be missed. You just have to be there to feel the ambiance and experience the wafting aroma of ethnic foods. Words alone cannot adequately describe this exciting event. You are part of the celebration.  Come mingle with your friends, both old and new. We’re sure you’ll want to make this celebration an annual tradition for years to come.


For more information, contact:
NEWSED Community Development Corporation
901 W. 10th Ave., Ste. 2A
Denver, Colorado 80204
(303) 534-8342

Additional directions:
Civic Center Park is located in Downtown Denver at 14th Avenue and Broadway between the Denver City and County Building and the State Capitol.


Denver-for-Free: a fun-filled day of free things to do around Denver

by Diane Winger

Whether you are planning a vacation to Denver, or you’re a local looking for something new to see or do, chances are you’d like to find something for free. Good news: you’ve come to the right place!

Let’s start off our free day (if today happens to be a Tuesday during the warmer months) by dropping in at Denver Botanic Gardens. Enjoy a fitness walk through the beautiful gardens, followed by a healthy snack (also free!). To add more balance to your morning, attend the free T’ai Chi class as well. (For more information: call 720-865-3500 or visit
2010 UPDATE: The Gardens aren’t holding their fitness walks and t’ai chi classes this year. Check their website for any changes to their schedule.

That was invigorating! Now, let’s head downtown to the Colorado State Capitol Building. The distinctive dome is plated with Colorado gold. The gold has been replaced several times, using rolls of ultra-thin gold, requiring only 47 ounces of gold to coat the entire dome! As you explore the building on your own, or join a free tour, enjoy the murals, stained glass portraits, wall hanging, and presidential portraits. During the legislative session, step into the Senate or House of Representatives gallery to watch state legislators in action.

For those Coloradoans who’ve visited in the past and remember hiking up and up the spiral stairs into the dome to enjoy the views of the city and of the building below, we have some bad news. After 9/11, this part of the building was closed to visitors. The good news is that visitors are still able to stroll through much of the building to enjoy its beauty and fascinating history. (For more information: call 303-866-2604 or visit

News flash 3/2007: Tours are now available again for the Capitol Dome!  Reservations are required (2 weeks in advance)

As we approach lunchtime, how about browsing the incredible book offerings at one of the Tattered Cover bookstore locations? What’s a bookstore doing in an article about free things to do in Colorado? Well, my friends, the Tattered Cover isn’t just any bookstore. What started out over 30 years ago as a small, cozy bookshop with an eclectic selection of books evolved into an amazing place for anyone who enjoys books. Not only will you find an outstanding selection of books (over half a million in the two original locations, consisting of over 150,000 titles), but you’ll still enjoy the feeling of being in a cozy shop where you feel welcome to curl up on a sofa or sit back in a recliner to enjoy reading a book, magazine, or newspaper. This is the bookstore that some of the “big box” booksellers wish they could be.

Although lunch isn’t free, may we suggest a light meal at the in-house coffee shop. (For more information: call 303-436-1070 or

Are you up for one more tour? If your free day is a Wednesday or Saturday, and it’s now about 2:00 PM, head over to the historic Brown Palace Hotel downtown. Meet in the sitting area beside the entrance to the Ship Tavern inside the hotel, and enjoy learning some fascinating Denver history on this 45 – 60 minute free guided tour. See a hotel that has hosted kings and presidents, executives, rock stars, and even people like you and me. (For more information, call: 303-297-3111 or 800-321-2599 or

Next up: Dinosaur Ridge by Morrison. This site gives new meaning to the term “leave only footprints” when hiking! You’ll be amazed at the variety of prehistoric animal tracks, both large and small, which are available for viewing along this well-preserved site. Stop by the Visitor Center, and then take time to experience the self-guided tour which includes sixteen interpretative signs that describe fossil remains as well as other relevant features of the area. (For more information, call: 303-697-3466 or visit

From Dinosaur Ridge, it’s just a quick jaunt over to the gorgeous Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Visitor Center. From Opera to Rock, Jazz to Reggae, Folk to Swing, Classical to Country; all types of musical performances have occurred at this spectacular natural amphitheatre since the early 1900s. During the day, or late into the evening when no concert is scheduled, you can come explore this beautiful concert venue.

When you’re done exploring the amphitheatre, don’t miss the captivating Visitor Center, which opened in 2003. The Visitor Center is tucked under the seating, so it made a minimal impact on the appearance of the area. Watch a 10-minute film that describes the history – both natural and musical – of the park. Reminisce as you view concert posters from the past 40 years, see instruments belonging to favorite musicians, or use the interactive computer terminals to find out who performed here or to remember a special concert. (For more information, call: 303-295-4444 or 303-640-2637 or visit

Are you up for one final stop and a few free beers? Take a tour at one of Colorado’s best-known companies, Coors (now known as:  MillerCoors), and enjoy up to 3 free samples of their variety of beer products (if you are over 21), or complimentary soft drinks if you are younger or prefer something non-alcoholic.

More than 250,000 people take this popular free tour each year. Participation is on a first-come, first-served basis; no reservations are taken. Your self-guided audio tour will take you through the main steps of the brewing process at the world’s largest brewery at a single site.

The tour takes 35 to 40 minutes; allow additional time to enjoy your 3 beer samples, to browse the gift shop, and sober up before you drive. (For more information: call 866-812-2337 (toll free) or 303-277-2337 (303-227-BEER) or visit

Whew! That’s enough fun for one day. Thanks for joining me. 


©2006-2017 All Rights Reserved.
Diane & Charlie Winger are authors of several hiking and travel guidebooks, including The Essential Guide to Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve, The Trad Guide to Joshua Tree – 60 favorite climbs from 5.5 to 5.9, and Because It’s There – A Photographic Journey. Charlie recently released his autobiography, Two Shadows – a true story of triumph over adversity, an inspiring story filled with mountaineering adventures. Diane authored Faces, a novel featuring struggles with face-blindness (prosopagnosia), Duplicity, a thriller set at a ski hut high in the mountains of Colorado, Rockfall, a story of tragedy and hope, Memories & Secrets, the story of a grandmother and granddaughter each facing her own demons, The Daughters’ Baggage, which follows the lives of several young women as a special little suitcase passes from one to the next, and The Abandoned Girl, because although every child deserves a loving home, some don’t get what they deserve.

Spring Splash (Winter Park)

What: Spring Splash at Winter ParkSpring Splash - closing day at Winter Park Ski area
Where: Winter Park Ski Area
When: Closing day – usually a Sunday in mid-April

Ah, the last day of the ski season! What better way to celebrate than by skiing through an obstacle course and attempting to end the run by water-skiing (on snow skis or a snowboard) across an icy-cold pond!

Unfortunately, it’ll cost you an entry fee to actually participate in this insanity directly. So, why not stay warm and dry and laugh as you watch other people struggle to keep their skis or snowboards on top of the water? Contestants often wear unusual attire to add to the festive atmosphere of this traditional event. You may see skiers in swimsuits, hockey uniforms, Batman costumes, or even a giant, cuddly elk (or was that a moose?).

Spring Splash - closing day at Winter Park Ski areaIn another contest, people in decorated cardboard boats demonstrate how poorly cardboard floats once it starts to get soaked.

When you tire of watching the skiers do their thing, enjoy some free live music on the decks of restaurants at the base of the mountain.

Winter Park Ski Area, which opened in 1940, is one of the oldest ski areas in Colorado still operating. The historic Ski Train still brings skiers from Denver most weekends of the winter, traveling through the Moffat Tunnel and depositing passengers at the base of the main lifts.

For more information, contact:
Winter Park Resort
P.O. Box 36
Winter Park, CO 80482

800-979-0332 or 970-726-1564 or

Harmony Park (Montrose)

What: Harmony ParkHarmony Park (Montrose CO)
Where: Montrose
When: School Days:  After 3:15 PM (after school)
Summer, Weekends & Holidays:  Daylight hours

Here’s a great idea: a music-oriented playground for kids!

Cottonwood Elementary school recently added a new section to their playground, and you’re welcome to come play the various xylophone-like instruments, tuned drums, and contra-bass chimes whenever school is not in session.

Even the neighbors like this musical park, since all the instruments produce mellow, somewhat ethereal sounds.

PVC Pipes, colorfully painted to look like an audience, surround the music area. Benches provide a place for a live audience to enjoy the impromptu performances as well.

Cottonwood Elementary School
3500 Woodgate Rd
Montrose, CO 81401

(970) 249-2539

Additional directions:
From US 550 (Townsend), turn East at the traffic light onto O’Delle (by City Market). Drive east 1 block to the “T” intersection, and turn right (Southeast) onto Woodgate. Drive 0.7 miles along Woodgate.

Cottonwood Elementary School will be on your left. Harmony Park is located on the southeast side of the school.