Crested Butte Wine & Food “Conscious Festival”
By Sharon Sullivan

“Eat, Drink, Think” is the theme of Crested Butte’s Wine and Food Festival, July 28-31. Along with several high-end meals prepared by top Colorado chefs, festivalgoers can participate in seminars and panel discussions about food integrity and sustainability issues. “This is a conscious food and wine festival,” says chef Kelly Whitaker, who owns restaurants in Boulder and Denver.

Among the panelists at this year’s event are representatives from Wholesome Wave, whose mission includes making locally-grown produce accessible and affordable to underserved populations; Food Policy Action, an organization that works to support healthy diets and reduce hunger; and Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, helping consumers make environmentally sound choices when buying seafood.

The weekend includes wine seminars, hikes and picnics in Crested Butte’s wildflower meadows, and a Farm-to-Table dinner at a private residence on Friday. There will also be a guided stroll through the town’s art galleries, an art seminar with watercolors and wine, and film screenings of the documentaries “City of Gold” and “The Hundred-Foot Journey.”

“A Grand Finale of Extravagant Wines and Exquisite Food” will take place Sunday at Soupcon Bistro, with chef/owner Jason Vernon. The finale is a benefit for Crested Butte’s Center for the Arts. The five-course meal is $1,000 and is 100 percent tax deductible. Grande Sponsor, Culinary Champion, and Patron Circle sponsorships get you into all events. Tickets for individual meals and events are also available.

For more information visit: www.crestedbuttearts.org/Wine-And-Food

Tour de Farms Bike Tour Celebrates Ten Years
By Sharon Sullivan

Take a short bike ride through Durango and view interesting backyard, community, and church gardens; or venture farther out of town, visiting larger, rural farms during Durango’s 10th annual Tour de Farms Bike Tour on Saturday, August 20.

The six-mile in-town bike ride, and the more rigorous 25-mile ride outside of Durango, both begin at the Smiley Building and include four or five stops, before cyclists reconvene at Ska Brewery for a lunch of locally-sourced foods prepared by Zia Taqueria.

Sponsored by the Garden Project of Southwest Colorado and Colorado State Extension Office, the goal is to celebrate local food, and inspire people to grow their own. “We hope people ride away with inspiration and ideas to take into their own garden,” says Darrin Parmenter, of CSU Extension.

Last year’s tour introduced bicyclists to a 20-something farmer who shared how he makes ends meet in an area where fertile, irrigated land is expensive. At another farm, riders met a family with four grown kids, each of whom have their own businesses making cheese, raising flowers, growing vegetables, or raising pork and beef. “Our main focus is local food awareness and production,” Parmenter says. “And it’s a fun way to get people out and active.”

Cost is $20 per person, which includes the catered lunch and beer. Participants also receive a commemorative pint glass. Each tour is limited to 40 riders.

Advanced registration is required. To register or for more information, visit www.thegardenprojectswcolorado.org. Or, call 970-382-6464.

Ouray County Fork Fest In Third Year
By Sharon Sullivan

The third annual Ouray County Fork Fest celebrates regional bounty in Ouray and Ridgway on August 19 and 20, with chef demonstrations using locally-sourced foods, cooking classes, and regional beer tastings on the Chef Demo Rooftop at the Blue Hungry Hart Café at Ridgway Town Park.

The Fork Fest Restaurant Crawl takes place from 5-9 pm Friday in downtown Ouray. “People park at one end of town and walk down the street,” says Faith Parry, President of Weehawken Creative Arts Centers, the organization benefiting from the festival. Purchased tickets allow participants to sample dishes at 10 different restaurants. New eateries this year include Brick House 737, which focuses on local foods; and Two Rascals Brewing Company, open in Ouray from May through October. The new KJ Wood Distillers will also join this year’s restaurant crawl.

Exotic Earth Coffee Roasters in Ridgway will offer samples, and demonstrate coffee bean roasting from 7 am to noon. A “Farm to Table” community potluck is planned for Saturday, 5-8 pm at Ridgway Town Park. People are encouraged to prepare dishes using farm-fresh foods from local markets or their own garden. Free chef demonstrations, including salsa-making using fresh veggies, cooking with infused oils, and growing your own herbs, will take place both days at Ridgway Town Park.

For more information, or to register for cooking classes, visit http://www.weehawkenarts.org/special-events/54-ouray-fork-fest.

Telluride Mushroom Festival
By Sharon Sullivan

What began 35 years ago as a small conference on psychedelic mushrooms has grown to include wild, culinary mushrooms and morphed into “all things mushroom,” says Telluride Mushroom Festival director Britt Bunyard.

At this year’s festival, August 18-21, there will be wild mushroom forays, culinary competitions, and workshops on cultivating, cooking, and medicinal uses of wild mushrooms.

Telluride Brewing Company and mushroom expert Chad Carter will collaborate on a mushroom beer, available for sale. “There will be several opportunities to try wild mushrooms,” says Bunyard. “A lot of wild edible mushrooms will be picked during the event and consumed there. People will come away learning how important different fungi are for the ecosystem of Colorado and the planet.”

Author and weed expert Katrina Blair forages most of the ingredients she uses for the wild foods dinner she prepares each year for the festival. Blair will also lead a foray in Telluride, illuminating what’s edible around town.

“There are a bunch of forays led by world-renowned people,” says Bunyard. “For people new to mushrooms, these forays are really popular.”

Art Goodtimes (poet and San Miguel County Commissioner) has been involved with the festival since its inception. His favorite event is the parade. “We all dress up as mushrooms and parade down Main Street,” says Goodtimes. “It’s very colorful. It’s a costume contest for kids and adults. It’s quite fun.”

For more information on weekend passes, as well as tickets for individual events, visit www.telluridemushroomfest.com, or call 970-248-4207.

Palisade Peach Festival Features Peachy Treats
By Sharon Sullivan

Peach pie and cobblers, peach smoothies, grilled peaches, nonalcoholic peach daiquiris, and the peach blast – made with Palisade Distillery vodka, are among the many peachy treats available at the Palisade Peach Festival, August 19 and 20, in Riverbend Park in Palisade, Colorado.

Begin the day with the Palisade Lion’s Club’s peach pancake breakfast. Food vendors will sell their peach-inspired items, such as the always-popular barbecue chicken and peach pizza. And, cooking demonstrations featuring peaches will take place all weekend, along with live music in the park. “Those who watch the demos get to sample and go home with the recipes,” says Palisade Chamber of Commerce director Juliann Adams.

If you have a scrumptious peach recipe of your own, consider entering it in the recipe contest for the chance to win local fame and prizes. Simply bring your recipe and prepared product to the community center, 120 W. 8th Street, Saturday, between 7:30 and 9 am. After the judging, 4-H kids will sell samples of the entries. Categories include pies, tarts and cobblers; home-canned; and sweet/savory.

A street dance with live music and a free ice cream social in the town plaza takes place Thursday, August 18, starting at 4:30 pm. Last year, the town served 2,400 bowls of ice cream topped with peaches.

Admission to the two-day festival is $7 for adults, $3 kids, and $5 seniors. For more information, visit www.palisadepeachfest.com.