7 awesome late summer/early fall festivals in Colorado

Golden Fine Arts Festival, Colorado

Mostly everyone loves summertime festivals, because they embody everything that we love about summer.  That means all these things:

  • Being outdoors in the shimmering heat and extended daylight.
  • Wearing lighter clothing, and going barer than you never thought
  • Eating foods you would NEVER choose otherwise (like fried butter and things that sound terrible but great in the heat of summer).
  • Drinking something icy cold and sighing because it completely refreshes you
  • Live music, whether it’s good or bad

But now, as fall becomes more summer-like (no, I won’t mention anything about climate change here – promise), those festivals seem just as prevalent as the leaves turn and the temperatures fall.

Olathe Sweet Corn Festival

Colorado sweet corn isn’t something most people know about.  The Olathe season is incredibly short, just a few weeks at the end of July and two into August.  But it’s the most tender cob you’ll ever taste, made all the more tantalizing by this short life span.  The small town Western Slope festival celebrates this fleeting gift of summer with live music concerts and naturally, a corn eating contest.

 Olathe Corn Festival, Colorado, festivals
Getting Olathe corn straight from the source at the Olathe Corn Festival, Colorado (photo courtesy Monumental Events)
Palisade Peach Festival

Here’s another best-kept secret about Colorado produce – Palisade peaches.  We even have them around here as popular school and organization fundraisers.  At the festival, you can enjoy lots of peach-related fun and food, as well a disc golf tournament, a 5K and 10K race and watching one of the Rockies farm teams play ball.

Palisade Peach Festival, Colorado, festivals
There’s a of peachy-keen goodness at the Palisade Peach Festival, Colorado (photo courtesy of Uncover Colorado)
Golden Fine Arts Festival

Of course, I needed to give a shout-out to my own hometown and one its most popular events.  During this two-day fest, you can shop around for paintings, photography, ceramics, jewelry, housewares and other artisan creations right next to the historical park and Clear Creek.  Don’t forget to try out some of the tasty food and micro-brewebouldd beers…and I’m not talking about Coors either.

Downtown Boulder Fall Fest

The outdoor sports mecca and home of the University of Colorado’s main campus is often a destination in itself, and there are plenty of events going on throughout the year around town.  But this September festival brings a lot of what people love about Boulder together in one place – creative ethnic cuisine, original artworks and energetic live music.

 Boulder Fall Festival, Colorado
Tibetan prayer flags in different iterations at the Boulder Fall Festival, Colorado (photo courtesy of Boulder Colorado USA)
Oktoberfest Denver

It would be wrong for me to write about fall festivals and not include something related to everyone’s favorite German celebration.  The largest one in the state takes place over two weekends in late September in Larimer Square, and its schedule is chock-full of music, hearty food (think wursts of all types) and cascades of bier hoisted in steins.

 Oktoberfest Denver, Colorado
Best of the wursts – and humongous turkey legs – at Oktoberfest Denver (photo courtesy of Colfax and Downing)
Mountain Harvest Festival (Paonia)

This one also takes a bit of schlep to get to. But you’ll be rewarded with one of the most beautiful destinations in a state full of them.  What also makes this festival a little different is the emphasis on the local.  There are all kinds of entertainment, arts and crafts, and culinary events .  You can also sign up for tours of nearby farms and wineries.

Mountain Harvest Festival, Paonia, Colorado
Live music at the Mountain Harvest Festival, Paonia, Colorado (photo courtesy of Paradise of Paonia)
Chile & Frijoles Festival (Pueblo)

I wrote last time about New Mexican food and its start attraction, chiles.  Now if you’re craving a little Southwestern, this just might be one of the best places to get your fix.  Pueblo also happens to host the state fair in August.  In contrast, this event concentrates on regional food showcases, with plenty of live music and contests thrown in for fun.

Chile & Frijoles Festival, Pueblo, Colorado
Downtown Pueblo during the Chile & Frijoles Festival (photo courtesy of Pueblo Chamber of Commerce)

Have you been to any of these festivals in the Centennial State?  Do you know of any others I haven’t mentioned here?  I’d love to know what you know in the comments.







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