Colorado is famous for having new and exciting things to do every weekend. From outdoor recreational opportunities to cultural events to various sports, there is never a shortage of things to do in the Centennial State! However, we would like to make a recommendation and suggest that you check out these fun and fabulous small-town Colorado festivals that you may have never heard of:
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Strawberry Days Festival (Glenwood Springs)
Since 1898, the Strawberry Days Festival has been serving up not only strawberry treats, but also a Fine Arts and Crafts Fair, parade, and old-fashioned carnival! (This year's Strawberry Days Festival runs June 16th through the 18th.)
2. Frozen Dead Guy Days (Nederland)
Quite possibly one of the darkest and quirkiest of small-town Colorado festivals is that of Nederland's Frozen Dead Guy Days; an ode to a frozen dead guy sitting in a Tuff Shed awaiting the day when science can bring him back to life! Guests of the Frozen Dead Guy Days can enjoy live music, food trucks, and the infamous coffin races (pictured). Unfortunately, the 2017 festival has already come and gone, but keep your eyes and ears peeled for next year's festivities!
3. Emma Crawford Coffin Races (Manitou Springs)
What? You thought that Frozen Dead Guy Days was small-town Colorado's only somewhat morbid festival? Then you have yet to experience the Emma Crawford Coffin Races, which pays homage to poor Emma Crawford's coffin becoming exposed via rainfall and then sliding down a steep hill. How does one "celebrate" Ms. Crawford's misfortune? By heading to Manitou on October 28th to dress up, watch the parade and coffin race, and drink lots of beer, of course!
4. Limon Heritage Festival (Limon)
This ain't your mamma's small-town heritage celebration! In fact, this FREE festival boasts historic fun for both kids and adults with tours of Limon's impressive museum, kiddie rides, homemade pie sale in an old train dining car, and other fun surprises. (This year's Limon Heritage Festival takes place on July 29th.)
5. Paonia Cherry Days (Paonia)
For an Independence Day celebration like no other, check out Paonia's Cherry Days, which features not only an elaborate fireworks display, but 5K run, coal-shoveling and wood-splitting contents, and a cherry cook-off as well.
6. Telluride Balloon Festival (Telluride)
For colorful family fun, head to Telluride June 2nd through the 4th for the annual Telluride Balloon Festival! In addition to the larger-than-life hot-air balloons, the Telluride Balloon Festival also offers workshops, and lots of delicious food and drinks.
7. Elk Fest (Estes Park)
Have YOU ever heard an elk bugle? You will at Estes Park's beloved Elk Fest, which takes place September 30th and October 1st, and offers a number of FREE events like an archery range, Native American dancing and storytelling, and craft beer garden.
8. Mike the Headless Chicken Festival (Fruita)
The Mike the Headless Chicken Festival is exactly what you think it is: a festival celebrating the surprisingly long life of a beheaded chicken! Just how does one celebrate? By heading to Fruita June 2nd & 3rd for peep eating contests, local artisans, and live music.
9. Breckenridge Craft Spirits Festival (Breckenridge)
Sip, sip, hooray; Colorado is home to quite possibly the best microbreweries and locally-made craft spirits in the world! Make plans to sample some of this smooth fair October 20th through the 22nd at the 2017 Breckenridge Craft Spirits Festival.
10. Watermelon Day (Rocky Ford)
Since Rocky Ford is nicknamed the "Sweet Melon Capital of the World," it only makes sense that the southeastern town hosts a watermelon festival full of free watermelon, seed spitting contests, and 10K run. (This year's Watermelon Day takes place August 19th.)
11. Colorado BBQ Challenge (Frisco)
Who says you have to travel to KC, Memphis, or Texas for some finger-licking good BBQ? Sample some of Colorado's most tender, fall-off-the-bone meat June 15th through the 17th in Frisco!