8 events worth your money this summer

The list of summer events in Colorado can be daunting. From concerts to baseball games and festivals to festivals, you can take your pick. But where to start ?

For our money, these eight foodie events and festivals are iconic, authentic and, above all, a lot of fun. They represent the best of the best and cost as little as $5 or as high as $200 and more.

Bonus: they all take place in cities or mountain areas where we recommend spending a weekend. So get out the calendar and call some friends. These are the food and drink nights you can still do this summer that are definitely worth spending.

Andy Cross, The Denver Post

Geoff Walser chooses colorful Rastas peppers to buy at The Legend Brand stand during the 24th annual Pueblo Chile and Frijoles Festival in downtown Pueblo on September 21, 2018.

Chili and Frijoles Festival (Pueblo) – $5

For the ultimate taste of Colorado, head to this chili festival in late September in historic downtown Pueblo. Freshly roasted Pueblo peppers are undoubtedly the stars of the weekend. You can buy them together with other local products directly from the farm stalls. Stick around for the jalapeño contest, chihuahua parade and live cooking demonstrations.

Union Ave., Pueblo, Sept. 23-25, pueblochilefestival.com

Meet the Brewers (Salida) – $55

More than 60 Colorado breweries will pour into Salida’s Riverside Park during this one-day event, so drinkers can sample some of their favorites and also try out a few newcomers to the local scene. For the general admission price, you’ll receive a commemorative drink, unlimited tastings, and access to plenty of water and food trucks.

Riverside Park, Salida, July 9, tinyurl.com/b2c3avpc

Carboy Winery at Mt. Garfield Estates...

John Fielder, provided by Carboy

Carboy Winery at Mt. Garfield Estates includes a vineyard, tasting room and sparkling wine production facility in Colorado’s Grand Valley. It is the newest Palisade winery to feature in Mountain Winefest 2022.

Colorado Mountain Winefest (Palisade) – $75

Before settling in for an afternoon of tastings, Winefest-goers can join the Tour de Vineyards, which offers a scenic bike trail through Colorado wine country, and includes coffee at the start and brunch at the arrival. After the exercise portion is over, head to Riverbend Park for unlimited wine samples, a commemorative glass and bag, and access to local vendors and live music.

Riverbend Park, Palisade, September 17, coloradowinefest.com

The Big Eat returns for a...

Nikki A. Rae Photography, provided by The Big Eat

The Big Eat returns for an evening of food and drink at the local restaurant, July 30 at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. (Nikki A. Rae Photography, courtesy of The Big Eat)

The Big Eat (Denver) – $85

More than 60 local restaurants serving small plates and some 15 drink-pouring brands make for the perfect summer evening. This annual fundraiser for EatDenver, a local non-profit restaurant, features some of the city’s top chefs, all under one “roof” in the Denver Performing Arts Complex’s spacious Galleria.

1400 Curtis St., Denver, July 28 eatdenver.com/the-big-eat

Chefs who participate in Heritage Fire create dishes using whole animals cooked over an open fire.  (Max Flatow Photography, courtesy of Heritage Fire)

Max Flatow Photography, provided by Heritage Fire

Chefs who participate in Heritage Fire create dishes using whole animals cooked over an open fire. (Max Flatow Photography, courtesy of Heritage Fire)

Heritage Fire (Aspen/Snowmass) – $99

Whole animal cooking is on display during Cochon555’s National Heritage Fire Tour, which stops in Snowmass Village at the end of July. More than 20 Colorado chefs will cook meats over open fires and serve beef, pork, lamb and more to festival attendees who can try unlimited bites alongside beers, wines and cocktails.

Snowmass Village, July 30, heritagefireretour.com/snowmass

Creekside Dinner Series (Vail) – $150

Guest chefs prepare community dinners in a beautiful mountain setting: what more could you ask for? This summer, the Grand Hyatt Vail invited three chefs from across the country to cook dinner for guests on its Gore Creek terrace. Chefs Jaycee Couch (Washington DC), James London (Charleston, SC) and Orlando Benavidez (Denver) will cook alongside Chef Hyatt Pierson Shields.

1300 Westhaven Dr., Vail, July 8 and 15 and August 5, tinyurl.com/3uk3ydz9

Uchi's Garden Series dinner parties began in 2019 and returned for the 2022 season with guest chefs preparing 10-course meals on select dates throughout the summer.  (Shawn Campbell, provided by Uchi)

Shawn Campbell, provided by Uchi

Uchi’s Garden Series dinner parties began in 2019 and returned for the 2022 season with guest chefs preparing 10-course meals on select dates throughout the summer. (Shawn Campbell, provided by Uchi)

Uchi Garden Series (Denver) – $200

It is a dinner to reserve for a special occasion during the summer. And you’ll need to book quickly, as it usually sells out. Guest chefs from Uchi’s Hai Hospitality family of restaurants showcase their skills in everything from Texas barbecue to Japanese nigiri through a 10-course menu that’s mostly served in small bites, with matching wines poured throughout.

2500 Lawrence St., Denver, dates TBD throughout the summer, check Uchi’s Instagram or sign up for the restaurant’s newsletter to find out when tickets for each dinner will be released.

Steamboat Food & Wine (Steamboat Springs) – $160 to $1,800

Start saving now for a ticket to one of the few events at this annual food and wine weekend, featuring many of Denver’s top chefs. You can take your pick from collaborative dinners, cooking seminars, and wine talks. For the most indulgent experience, the all-access pass gets you two dinners, one lunch, and a “vinyl” brunch, plus the big tasting, all demos and seminars, and an industry party where you can rub shoulders with the winemakers and chefs.

Base at Steamboat Mountain and other locations around town, September 29-October 29. 2, steamboatfoodandwine.com

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About Michael Brafford

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