Nine & a half things to do at Colorado Renaissance Festival

Haven’t made it to the Colorado Renaissance Festival this year? Well, what’s stopping you? It’s time to saddle up the pony and head out. While there, I highly recommend doing these nine and a half things.

1. Gnaw on a Turkey Leg

There’s something about gnawing on a turkey leg that’s highly satisfying. Vegetarians, you can gnaw on a roasted artichoke instead, although I guarantee that it’s not nearly as fun.

9 and a half things to do at colorado renaissance Festival.

2. Catch a Show

The Colorado Renaissance Show curates their shows carefully and they are all very good. This year, The Washing Well Wenches have moved to the big stage, formerly the home of Puke & Snot. This is a longtime favorite of mine it’s nice to see these funny, irreverent ladies rewarded for their hard work.

Colorado Renaissance Festival 2016. HeidiTown (25)

Don’t miss Celtic Legacy – it’s a stage full of men in kilts – need I say more? Also, be sure to catch Acrobatrix. In their second year at the Renaissance Festival, These two acrobats take entertaining to new heights – literally.

3. People Watch

This year, I saw lots of princesses of all sizes and shapes, big-breasted pirates, Zelda, a Centaur, the Big Bad Wolf, and many miniature fairies. Who and what will you see at Colorado Renaissance Festival?

Colorado Renaissance Festival 2016. HeidiTown (6)

4. Pet an Alpaca

If you’ve been reading HeidiTown for awhile, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of barnyard animals, so the petting zoo at Colorado Renaissance Festival is always on my must-do list. It’s not just for kids – it’s also for Heidis.

Colorado Renaissance Festival HeidiTown 73

5. Tip a Bar Wench

Because hearing, “Huzzah to the Tipper” ringing out across the festival grounds gives me a warm fuzzy and it will give you one too.

6. Buy Something Shiny

It’s fun to shop at Colorado Ren Fest because you’ll find things here that you won’t find anywhere else. This year, I purchased a sparkly ankle bracelet that chimes whimsically when I walk which makes me happy.

7. Wield a Sword

This may be the one place left in the United States where you can freely wield a sword or other medieval weapon without being arrested. But please, be responsible and don’t ruin it for everyone by being a numbskull.

This is not a sword. :-)

This is not a sword. :-)

8. Heckle a Performer

While watching Acrobatrix, the 10-year-old sitting next to me kept yelling out “Don’t fall!” during the performers’ most tricky tricks. This is perfectly acceptable at Colorado Renaissance Festival so start planning your witty heckles today. I’d recommend going with something a bit more creative than “Don’t fall!”

Colorado Renaissance Festival 2016. HeidiTown (7)

9. Throw a Tomato

If you are easily offended, this may not be the game for you. After all, political correctness has not penetrated the walls of Colorado Renaissance Festival and if you throw like a girl, the Tomato Justice guys will tell you so. But who cares? If you manage to hit one of those smug dudes, it will be well-worth the insults.

Colorado Renaissance Festival HeidiTown 18

9½. Share a Pickle

For many years now, Ryan and I have shared a cold, crisp pickle at Colorado Renaissance Festival. Why do we share? I guess half a pickle is better than no pickle at all.

9 and a half things to do at Colorado Renaissance Festival. eat a pickle.

The 40th Annual Colorado Renaissance Festival is underway in Larkspur, Colorado and runs through August 7, 2016. Visit the fest online at


A stay at Colorado Trail House in Leadville

 Colorado Trail House offers something new to the traveler in a home that rings with echoes of the past.

Steeped in history, Leadvillle’s lively past is palpable on every visit to the town, and whether a visitor cares a whit about history or not, it’s all around them.

A stay at Colorado Trail House in Leadville.

I have been visiting Leadville for nearly a decade, and on my most recent trip, I experienced many new Leadville sites and sounds that held echoes of past visits. This is the first in several posts about my latest Leadville adventure.

The first harmonization of the past and present was my booking at Colorado Trail House, a brand new lodging destination in Leadville that’s located in a not so new building. The Victorian home at 127 E. 8th Street has stood for more than 100 years, and while researching Colorado Trail House online before my visit, I realized that I’d been there before.

My husband, Ryan, took me on a surprise trip to Leadville for my birthday in 2007 (the year I founded HeidiTown), and we had stayed in this big blue mansion when it was a bed and breakfast.

A stay at Colorado Trail House in 2007.

October 10, 2007

That was my first trip to Leadville, and I distinctly remember waking up on my birthday, October 10, to six inches of fresh snow. I was ecstatic. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest and having lived in Colorado only a short time, snow was still a novelty – much to my husband’s amusement, the first snowfall of the season still turns me into a 7-year-old on Christmas morning.

Today, Colorado Trail House offers unique accommodations to Leadville visitors. It’s a place where you can choose a communal living style or stay in a room with a private entrance.

A stay at Colorado Trail House. photo of the yard.

There are six rooms in the main house and a Bunk House opening later this summer that will offer shared accommodations. Guests can bunk in the Bunk House, designed after the European hostel model, for just $25/night.

A stay at Colorado Trail House. Victorian house in Leadville, Colorado.

Guest are welcome to use all communal areas in the house, including the kitchen that comes stocked with breakfast supplies to which guests may help themselves to on the first morning of their stay (all house guidelines can be found in a folder in your room). Outside, in the shady courtyard, guests may converse around the chiminea or soak in the hot tub.

I stayed in the Fishbowl, the room with a private entrance. It also has a king size pedestal bed, bathroom with jacuzzi tub and is large enough for a dance party – although I’d encourage you to dance softly and quietly so as not to disturb other guests.

A stay at Colorado Trail House, Fishbowl Room.

Fishbowl Room

The location of Colorado Trail House is perfect for exploring downtown or for quick access to the Mineral Loop Trail. It’s also just a literal stones throw away from Periodic Brewing Company, the world’s highest craft brewery at over 10,000 feet above sea level.

Colorado Trail House is a comfy and friendly lodging option in Leadville and with rates that range from $25 to $90 a night, the price can’t be beat. Whether you’re visiting Leadville to run a marathon or explore museums, this is an ideal spot to stay.

Thank you to Leadville Twin Lakes & the National Mining Hall of Fame & Museum for hosting me on this visit.


Featured Festival: Annual Biergarten Festival, 2016

Have you noticed that everyone is visiting Germany this year? It’s wildly popular with Millennial travel bloggers in love with Berlin and Colorado brewers looking to immerse themselves in the beer brewing traditions of the old country.

Biergarten Festival, Morrison, Colorado 2015. HeidiTown (14)

If you are anything like me, however, you can’t afford a plane ticket to Germany (today’s summer airfare from Denver to Frankfurt nonstop is $1600/person).

Thankfully, Coloradans don’t have to fly to Germany to experience German culture.

Ryan and I have been attending the Annual Biergarten Festival for the better part of a decade and our secret summer festival is no longer a secret. People love the Biergarten Festival for its beautiful setting, laid back ambiance, friendliness and authenticity.

Biergarten Festival, Morrison, Colorado 2015. HeidiTown (17)

Attending this festival really does feel like going to a summer party in the rolling green hills of Germany (without the travel price tag).

I’ve been writing about this festival for years and I always tell my readers about the wonderful German dancing, outstanding German beer (Paulaner, of course) and delicious German food. This year, I have a couple new items to tell you about.

Biergarten Festival 2015.

Festival organizers have added a Stein Hoisting Contest so it’s time to start warming up those brawny arm muscles boys and girls. I hear that doing the Wood Chopper Dance is a great way to practice. This contest of strength takes place Saturday (7/9) at 4 p.m.

Another new event is the 1st Annual Dachshund Race on Sunday at 2 p.m. If you’ve never had the opportunity to watch a dachshund race, you’ve missed out. Come prepared to be amused. 

Want to sign up for the Stein Hoisting or Dachshund Race? Email

Biergarten Festival, Morrison, Colorado 2015. HeidiTown (21)

Of course, all the usual suspects will be in attendance such as Rick Borger & the Average Band, Peter Kron, the Chalet Dancers, TEV Edelweiss Schuhplattlers and the Rhinelanders.

The beer continuously flows and the music never stops at Biergarten Festival, which is one reason I consider this to be one of the best summer festivals in Colorado. If you’ve been meaning to make it to Biergarten Festival, this is the year to make it happen.

Annual Biergarten Festival

July 8-10, 2016

July 8, 4 to 10 p.m. / July 9, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. / July 10, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

TEV Edelweiss Club

17832 Highway 8, Morrison, Colorado

$5/day adults

$3 children 12 & under (age 5 & under free)

Pets welcome

Join Biergarten Festival on Facebook

Follow Biergarten Festival on Twitter

The Mayor of HeidiTown at Biergarten Festival. Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer, writer, blogger, small business owner.

I hope to see you at the Annual Biergarten Festival this year! Prost!


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The perfect day in Grand Lake

Ryan and I woke to sunlight flooding in our condo’s bedroom window. Outside, Grand Lake, Colorado’s largest and deepest natural lake, was so still it appeared that I could walk across the glassy surface.

The perfect day in Grand Lake. lake reflections

Our search for breakfast didn’t take us far. Blue Water Bakery is mere steps away from Eagles Spirit Condo. We ate eggs and toast at a patio table with lake views while hummingbirds buzzed around us, and dog walkers passed on their way to the lake.

Refilling our coffee cups, we walked the short distance to the town-owned docks. We sat, enjoying the gentle rocking of the docks as we sipped our coffee.

This would have been the perfect time to try out stand up paddle boarding on Grand Lake, but I already had a full day planned so I’ll save that next time.

We were booked on a 10:30 a.m. boat tour of Grand Lake with Headwaters Marina, a two-minute walk from our Western Riviera condo.   Continue reading

Five new festivals in Colorado this summer

New festivals crop up every summer in Colorado and it’s hard to keep track of them all, but I try. Here are five new ones that will appeal to a variety of different tastes. 

Tequila & Tacos, Winter Park, July 9, 2016

Winter Park is a wonderful summer festival town and when Tequila & Tacos came across my radar, I immediately saved the date on my calendar.

Located in one of Colorado’s best festival venues, Hideaway Park, this new event is a celebration of one of my husband’s favorite things (tequila) and one of my favorite things (tacos) – so, yes, we have to go.

Five new festivals in Colorado this summer

As you might expect, Tequila & Tacos includes tequila tasting and taco tasting, plus, live music provided by The Rick Lewis Project.

Keystone River Run Village Art Festival, July 30-31, 2016

Keystone is another great summer festival town. River Run Village is well-laid out for fun fests such as Wine & Jazz Festival and the Mountain Town Music Festival. This art event is the newest festival in the Keystone Festivals summer lineup.


Five new festivals in Colorado this summer

There will be 80 artists at this juried, outdoor event. Admission is free.

Vertex Festival, Buena Vista, August 5-7, 2016

This new “camping” festival is located in one of the most beautiful areas of Colorado. The Vertex Festival website states, “Vertex merges the best of worlds to create a present-day frontier where anything is possible. Diverse music, exhilarating outdoor adventures and artful fun and games bring people together for an enduring shared experience.”

Five new festivals in Colorado this summer

Vertex includes lots of live music, field trips, art events and more. If you’re looking for an event that will inspire creativity in a fantastic destination, Vertex may be the festival for you.

Farm to Fiddle Festival, Hotchkiss, August 12-13, 2016

This festival makes me want to start singing, “these are a few of my favorite things!”

Five new festivals in Colorado this summer

Hotchkiss, Colorado is in Delta County, which is our state’s hidden gem. The region is bountiful and offers everything from vineyards to farm stays, and this festival is a celebration of those things, plus arts and crafts. Events include music, demonstrations and of course, wine, hard cider and lots of delicious, farm fresh food.

Breckenridge Wine Classic, September 15-18, 2016

A new wine event is coming to Breckenridge, Colorado. This festival brings together food artisans, wineries, breweries, distilleries, epicurean purveyors and locally made products. There will be cooking demonstrations, seminars and other opportunities for wine education. Events will take place at various venues around town.

Five new festivals in Colorado this summer

The Breckenridge Wine Classic is for discriminating wine aficionados and it is also for those who may be new to the wine world.

If you know of any new festivals in Colorado this summer that aren’t listed here, please leave me a note in the comment section. 


Rangely, Colorado’s friendliest small town

We were greeted by flag-lined streets as we drove into Rangely, Colorado. It immediately reminded me of the rural town that I grew up in where everyone shows up for high school football games and if you skip school someone will see you and tell your mom.

Rangely, Colorado's friendliest town.

Rangely, Colorado, population 2.172 (2014).

This northwest Colorado town is the Gateway to Dinosaur National Monument, our ultimate destination. We made a stop for gas and a stop at the grocery store before heading to to Echo Park Campground. I wrote about our camping adventures here. Continue reading

Featured Festival: Hops & Harley, 2016

Hops-and-Harley-website-379x400I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with Hops & Harley from the beginning. This festival is not just a fun dog-friendly event, but it raises awareness for a cause that is close to my heart, National Mill Dog Rescue.

Who is Harley?

National Mill Dog Rescue saves commercial breeding dogs from puppy mills, and Harley, the festival’s namesake, was a spokesdog against puppy mills until he passed over the rainbow bridge earlier this year.

This pint-sized chihuahua spent the first ten years of his life in awful conditions as a breeding dog at a puppy mill in the Midwest.

Featured Festival Hops & Harley photo by Emily Sierra

This is Harley.

After Harley was rescued, he spent the last five years of his life saving puppy mill dogs and educating people about the horrors of puppy mills. Harley become the American Humane Association’s Hero Dog in 2015, making him a world famous celebrity dog. He touched hundreds of thousands of lives over the years and through Hops & Harley, his legacy lives on.

Hops & Harley

Featured Festival Hops & Harley photo by Emily Sierra - dancing

There will be dancing.

This festival takes place annually in Fickle Park in Berthoud, Colorado. Hosted by City Star Brewing, it’s a dog and beer lovers extravaganza. City Star serves up their award-winning craft brew while bands play on the main stage. There are food trucks, dog-centric vendors, childrens activities, a dog agility course and more.

Featured Festival Hops & Harley photo by Emily Sierra - dog agility

See if your dog has what it takes!

Well-behaved dogs are not only welcome at Hops & Harley, their presence is encouraged. A number of National Mill Dog Rescue rescue dogs show up at the festival (many NMDR rescue dog owners fly in or drive hundreds of miles to attend).

Brewery Dogs Beer Tasting Event

Brewery Dogs Beer Tasting at Hops & Harley is a new event this year. While the main festival is free, this is a ticket event.

Featured Festival Hops & Harley photo by Emily Sierra - CSB

There will be craft beer.

The Brewery Dogs Beer Tasting tent will feature 15 breweries pouring their dog-related brews such as City Star’s Harley’s Honey Wheat, Copper Kettle’s Charlie’s Golden Strong and High Hops’ Brown Dog IPA. A few of the dogs that inspired these tasty beers will also be under the Brewery Dog Beer Tasting tent.

Featured Festival Hops & Harley photo by Emily Sierra - random dog

Your dog wants to go to Hops & Harley!

This event takes place from 2 to 6 p.m. during Hops & Harley and tickets may be purchased here.

And here’s what I think is the best part about this festival: One hundred percent of the proceeds of Hops & Harley, and the new beer tasting event, will go to National Mill Dog RescueNothing is more fun than festival-ling for a good cause!

Hops & Harley

Saturday, June 25, 2016

11 to 6 p.m. (free)

Brewery Dogs Beer Tasting 2 to 6 p.m. (ticketed, $20)

Fickle Park, Berthoud, Colorado


brewery dogs at Hops & Harley 2016


Featured Festival spots on are paid advertisements. Interested in having your festival or event considered for a feature?



A stay at Colorado’s only tiny home hotel

Ryan and I have been intrigued with the tiny home movement for many years. It stems from Ryan’s ability as a master craftsman to build one himself, after all, he could build one in his shop.

A stay at Colorado's only tiny home hotel.

WeeCasa, Lyons, Colorado

Several weeks ago, we had the opportunity to stay at WeeCasa, a tiny home hotel in Lyons, Colorado.

Tiny homes are defined as houses under 400 square feet (some folks say under 600), and the “tiny house movement” is a description of the architectural and social movement that advocates living simply in small homes.

While living simply interests me to a degree, I’m more fascinated with the mobility of tiny homes and their small price tag when compared to standard home prices in Colorado.

Each of WeeCasa’s 17 tiny homes can be rented as “hotel rooms” per night or longer, and each is uniquely designed. If, like us, you’ve ever wondered about owning a tiny home, you’ll definitely want to experience a stay at WeeCasa. However, you don’t need to be a tiny home lover to utilize this place. Continue reading

Win tickets to Colorado Renaissance Festival 2016

This is my favorite HeidiTown giveaway because I love the Colorado Renaissance Festival. Ryan and I have been attended for nearly two decades together and Ryan’s been visiting since he was a kid. It’s a chance to escape reality for a day and enjoy a fantastical experience.

Colorado Renaissance Festival 2016 win tickets. the royal court.

The Royal Court, Colorado Renaissance Festival

We like to arrive at the festival grounds when the doors open so as to buzz through the stores before the mid-day throngs arrive. Plus, parking is easier earlier in the day.

Once the place gets busy with sword wielding outlaws and busty lassies pushing baby strollers, we order hard cider, our drink of choice at Ren Fest, and start the second part of our day – people watching (there is no better place for it). Continue reading

Easy hiking around Echo Park, Dinosaur National Monument

I’ve already written about camping at Echo Park and what inspired our visit to this remote national monument in Northwest Colorado. In this post I wanted to share several of the hikes we took while camping in this beautiful spot.

Easy hiking around Echo Park, Dinosaur National Monument. On the trail to the confluence.

We didn’t do any big treks as we had our old dog, Xena, with us and dogs can’t be on the trails around Echo Park, so we had to leave her in the car during our outings. Thankfully, it was cool and she loves being in the car. It’s one of her “happy places.”

We spent two nights camping at Echo Park. We arrived on a Thursday in the late afternoon and only had time to set up camp and make dinner before the sun was dipping behind the canyon walls.

On Friday, we took Xena on short walk down to the boat ramp area and let her get her paws wet. She loves the water and she would have jumped in headfirst if we’d have let her. She was leashed (it’s the law) so we prevented a total wet dog situation. Continue reading

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Summer 2016 –  Featured Nonprofit

National Mill Dog Rescue

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