There are few things I love more than wine, chocolate and cheese and I am not alone. That’s why you should get yourself to Ouray, Colorado for this annual December affair.

The event was founded by Faith Parry who has a passion for Colorado-owned businesses. She, along with Jennifer Loshaw, saw Wine, Chocolate & Cheese Festival as a way to support small Colorado wine and food businesses as well as bring visitors to Ouray.

“I wanted to have an opportunity to showcase the fabulous things we have in Colorado,” says Parry.

Ouray Wine, Chocolate & Cheese Festival. HeidiTown.com

She also wanted to encourage folks to shop local for Christmas presents instead of heading outside of Ouray to the big box stores.

Originally, the event featured Colorado wine and chocolate, but Colorado cheese was added the second year in order to bring something savory to the table. Last year, the event expanded again to include Colorado arts and crafts and Colorado distilled spirits – making it a real Colorado party.

Ouray Wine Chocolate & Cheese Festival. HeidiTown.com

Swing City Express, a 9-piece swing band will provide festive music for Wine, Chocolate & Cheese Festival this year. Guests are encouraged to dress up too – this year’s theme is Winter Wonderland.

Each year the festival helps out a local nonprofit and this year that organization is Art Partners, promoting youth development and building a sense of social responsibility and self-esteem. They serve Delta, Montrose and Ouray.

While this event attracts people from the region, there’s no reason folks on the Front Range can’t make a trip to the Ouray around Wine, Chocolate & Cheese Festival. After all, it may be tiny, but Ouray is full of fun – it’s a HeidiTown favorite! You can check out their two amazing museums, sip suds at two locally owned breweries, shop at the town’s many unique stores or just soak in the hot springs pool all day.

Ouray Colorado in the winter. HeidiTown.com

If you are more adventurous, check out the Ouray Ice Park – right now it’s set to open on the weekend of the festival. Read about my experience there.

“Ouray is a magical place in the winter,” says Parry. “Christmas lights shine against the sparkle of the snow. It’s a quaint snowy town nestled in a canyon surrounded by towering mountains. And there’s fantastic festivities almost every weekend from Thanksgiving to mid-January.”

Tickets for Wine, Chocolate & Cheese Festival are just $20 and available online. Better yet, stay at a participating Ouray hotel or bed and breakfast and receive a discounted ticket for only $10. Buy tickets and see list of participating lodging establishments here.

Ouray’s Wine, Chocolate & Cheese Festival

December 13, 2014

6 to 9 p.m.

Ouray Community Center at 320 6th Avenue

ChocolateWineFest.org

Follow this fest on Facebook

Ouray Wine Chocolate & Cheese Festival

 

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

 

There’s nothing more cheerful than a Christmas tree and no better way to ring in the holidays than by putting up the tree, but Christmas is about so much more than decorations and presents – it’s a time to reflect on our blessings and to assist those who may need a helping hand.

Tree for All logo

Tree for All is one of three fundraisers held annually by the Foothills Service League to benefit Foothills Gateway and Namaqua Center for Children. Since 1972, Foothills Gateway has been improving the lives of thousands of people in Northern Colorado with cognitive disabilities and their families. They help people conquer challenges and achieve their maximum potential.

Foothills Gateway, Inc.

For more than 35 years, Namaqua Center has provided care, treatment and healing to Northern Colorado’s most vulnerable children. Many of these children have lived through trauma and may have severe behavior challenges or have diagnosable emotional disturbances. Namaqua offers children-centered, community based programs to help give families the individualized support they need to raise healthy and happy children.

Tree for All will be held on Sunday, December 7, 2014, at 11:00 a.m. at The Ranch First National Bank Building in Loveland, Colorado. This event is an opportunity to celebrate the season and help two great organizations at the same time.

I call that a “win/win.”

Crowd shot at Tree for All, Foothills Service League. HeidiTown.com

For just $40/ticket participants can browse 50+ uniquely decorated Christmas trees that will be raffled off during the event. A beautiful brunch will be served, live entertainment will be provided and there will be door prizes, a cash bar and parking lot shuttle services.

multiple trees at Tree for All, Foothills Service League. HeidiTown.com

The Christmas trees are decorated by local businesses, organizations and individual donors and let’s just say that these folks get very creative.

Just take a look at this Cat Themed “Christmas Tree” pictured below.

Cat Christmas Tree at Tree for All by Foothills Service League. HeidiTown.com

Tickets to Tree for All can be purchased at Cloz to Home (120 W 4th Street, Loveland), Rowe’s Flowers (863 N Cleveland Avenue, Loveland)

or online at FoothillsServiceLeague.org.

This is your opportunity to do something good for your community this holiday season and have fun doing it!

Here are a few more lovely Tree for All trees from past years.

Tree for All, Foothills Service League. 2 HeidiTown.com

Tree for All, Foothills Service League. HeidiTown.com

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

Luxor on the Vegas strip. HeidiTown.comI rarely write about travel outside of Colorado, but even the Mayor leaves the state occasionally, but when I go on vacation, I will likely write about it.

My husband decided that he wanted to spend his birthday in the sports book in Las Vegas, so after a five-year Vegas hiatus, we booked a trip.

Here are some of my Vegas tips, tricks and observations. Please feel free to leave yours in the comment section. Since I wasn’t on an official HeidiTown trip, I didn’t take my real camera, so please enjoy my below average phone photo editing skills.

Objects on the strip are farther than they appear

Some of you probably know about “false peaks,” a phenomenon that I have experienced several times while climbing Colorado’s mountains. It’s the peak you think is the summit, but it’s actually concealing the summit behind it. This is similar to the hotels along the Las Vegas strip. At first these ginormous buildings seem fairly close, but as you walk towards them it’s as if they somehow move farther and farther away. On our first night I think I may have walked five miles (in flip flops), resulting painful blisters that I’m still sporting. Continue Reading…

Hot springs dot the southeast portion of our state, providing serenity and play time across this breathtakingly beautiful region of Colorado. This is the story of two hot spring destinations that are located just 10 minutes apart, but couldn’t be more different.

We have visited a good portion of Colorado’s hot springs over the years and each has its own ambiance, but there’s no two springs more dissimilar than these two.

Ouray Hot Springs Pool, Ouray, Colorado

Located in the small village of Ouray, the Ouray Hot Springs Pool has a family-friendly environment. We’ve been there several times and it’s always a lively place, even in the winter. One of our favorite Colorado travel memories is sitting in the Ouray Hot Springs Pool with snow falling on our heads.

Ouray Hot Springs Pool, photo by Haji Mahmood

The pool, right in town, offers a chance for climbers, hikers and other adventurers to soak away their aches and pains. Moms and dads can soak away the stress of daily life while their kiddos swim until all of their little fingers are shriveled up like raisins. Retired folks enjoy the restorative powers of the hot water that was called “sacred miracle waters” by the Ute tribe who spent their summers in the area long before white settlers discovered it.  Continue Reading…

This article was inspired by a comment someone left when I was promoting my post about Kevin Torres’ “Storytellers: Small Towns” special on 9News. A reader wrote…

“Small towns are where you can still find America.”

This comment got me thinking.

What does that mean exactly? And do I agree?

The more I thought about it, the more it struck a chord and I think the chord was especially loud because we are in the midst of one of the most revolting campaign seasons that I’ve witnessed. While our voting rights are part of what it means to be American, these politicians do not make me proud to be one.

Traveling across Colorado, however, does make me proud. Inspired by the statement above, I’ve decided to share some of the times I’ve found America in Colorado’s small towns.

The Mayor’s American Moments

Some seem to think that Colorado is all about (and only about) purple mountains majesty. And while our mountains make us special, the small towns scattered across the Eastern Plains are as American as apple pie.

One of my American Moments occurred at Glenn Miller SwingFest this past summer while lying in the grass at Fort Morgan’s City Park, under a huge oak tree, listening to swing music being played by a local band. Later that evening, as the trees and tractors glowed in the setting sun on Keith Bath Farms, with the Glenn Miller Orchestra playing “In the Mood” behind me in the barn, I thought – this is America.

tractors on Keith Bath Farms in the small town of Fort Morgan, Colorado. HeidiTown.com

Keith Bath Farms in Fort Morgan, Colorado

Another American Moment is much smaller, but nonetheless it makes the list. Every time we go to Steamboat Springs we stop at a gas station in Walden, Colorado. This isn’t just a gas and bathroom stop, it’s my go-to place for free popcorn. They have one of those table top popcorn makers and if I remember correctly, popcorn is free with a gas fill up, or maybe it’s just free. Continue Reading…

A Colorado fall to remember

October 23, 2014 — 2 Comments

I have lived in Colorado for more than 14 years and I cannot recall a fall as beautiful as this one. I decided that it needed documented and so I’m dedicating this blog post to Colorado Fall 2014.

After setting a record for number of likes on a photo I posted on HeidiTown’s Facebook page – the photo below is creeping up on 100 likes -

fall  2014 in Colorado. HeidiTown.com

I decided to do a walkabout in my neighborhood with my Canon T3i in order to document this outstanding autumn. Continue Reading…

When 9News journalist Kevin Torres emailed to ask if I’d like to write a preview of his “Storytellers” special, I jumped at the chance. After all, Torres, is one of my favorite Colorado journalists because we have a love of Colorado’s small towns in common. It is the five time Emmy-award winning journalist’s focus on Colorado’s small towns that brought him to my attention several years ago.

9News Kevin Torres banner

The “Storytellers” segments on 9News focus on human interest stories. Multiple journalists work on “Storytellers” segments, but when Torres hosts the show his focus is on the stories that come from Colorado’s small towns.

Torres has worked on “Storytellers” segments for the past five years. His work has taken him across the state and back again. He’s traveled the Eastern Plains and the Western Slope, and to tiny towns in corners of the state seldom visited. He’s made a lot of friends along the way, and keeps those friendships alive by stopping in and visiting folks whenever he’s in the area. Continue Reading…

Fall Back Beer Festival LogoThink the beer festival season is over? Think again. Beer festivals have become a year round tradition here in Colorado and there’s a great one just around the corner.

When I preview a beer event, I try to find something unique about the festival. After all, beer events are, on the whole, quite similar. You go, you taste beer, you chat up the brewers and taste more beer and that’s about it.

So while investigating Fall Back Beer Fest, I wanted to know what set this festival apart and I discovered that it’s the opportunity for learning.

Fall Back Beer Fest in the village of Estes Park, Colorado features 100+ beers being poured by the brewers themselves. This in itself is unique. With beer events taking place nearly every weekend, the brewers have to pick and choose where they will go and at today’s Colorado beer fests you won’t always find the brewers in attendance.

This is a bit of a shame because I find that talking to the brewers truly enhances my beer festival experience.

the proper beer glass for the proper beer

Learn what beer style should go in what beer glass in the Elite Brands of Colorado seminar.

However, I think what truly sets Fall Back Beer Fest apart is the seminars. If you are a home brewer, this will be the one fest you don’t want to miss this fall/winter. After all, this event coincides with the American Homebrewers Associations Annual Learn to Brew Day. To help celebrate a number of AHA sanctioned homebrewing clubs will be at this festival and will be brewing publicly.

There are several seminars including one by my longtime friend, Napa of Beer. They will offer a 5 Senses Class that will help you explore the tasting process and gain appreciation for the scientific process of brewing.

There’s also a class on proper beer glass + beer type beer pairings. Bob Gregg of Elite Brands of Colorado will also host a pour off to see what seminar guest can pour the best glass of beer. There are other learning opportunities too such as seminars about the world of yeast, the world of hops and beer food pairings.

Downtown Estes Park and the Continental Divide as seen from the ruins of William Byer's cabin. Photo by Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer

So come to Fall Back Beer Fest ready to drink (and learn) about good beer. I’ll be there, and I’m looking forward to spending a little extra time in Estes Park. In fact, you’ll find me devouring some trout pizza at Poppy’s after the event.

Fall Back Beer Fest

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Estes Park Events Center & Pavilion

VIP Admission: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

General Admission: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Dinner with the brewers: 5:30

Buy tickets at: FallBackBeerFest.com

Join Fall Back Beer Fest on Facebook

Noteworthy: A FREE Shuttle will take festival goers to and from the event complex to downtown Estes Park.

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

We stumbled into the Hotel de Paris while on a trip to Georgetown for my birthday five years ago. As readers know, I’m a fan of museums and we try to patronize as many as possible in our travels around Colorado.

Hotel de Paris, Georgetown, Colorado. HeidiTown.com

An hour and a half later, Hotel de Paris was my favorite museum in Colorado. Our docent had brought the place alive for me (evidence that a good museum docent is priceless). The stories of the hotel’s colorful French owner, Louis Dupuy, combined with the historical integrity of the building and its contents convinced me that this place was very special.

I’ve been back twice; most recently this past week while on a magazine assignment. I toured the hotel again with current director Kevin Kuharic. Kuharic’s love for the museum and its story is palpable.

He’s done some really great things since his arrive in 2010, including starting a museum Facebook page – go like it here.

Hotel de Paris Museum in Georgetown, Colorado. HeidiTown.com

Hotel de Paris Museum in 2009, when photography was still permissible.

One of the reasons I believe this museum is so unique is that 90 percent of the museums furnishings are original to the building when it was a hotel operated by Louis Depuy from 1875 until his death in on October 7, 1900, exactly 114 years ago today. But that’s not the end of the story. Several other families operated the hotel until it was bought by the National Society of Colonial Dames of American in Colorado in 1954. It has been a museum since then. Continue Reading…

With snow falling in the high country, the scenic tours season will quickly be coming to an end, so I’m going to write another blog post about our adventure with Alpine Scenic Tours in Ouray early next spring as this company will be part of the HeidiTown Festival package in May.

However, I do want to share a little about our experience on this trip as well as some of the fabulous photos that we managed to snap whilst riding to the top of the world.

I had no idea what to expect when I was booked on a scenic alpine 4-wheel drive tour while in Ouray, Colorado earlier this month. I’d never gone on such an excursion and of course, my fear of heights niggled the back of my brain.

Heading out with Alpine Scenic Tours in Ouray, Colorado. HeidiTown.com

Alpine Scenic Tours is a brand new tour company in Ouray, but never fear, owner Michael Lane has many years of experience driving for other tour companies in the area. He decided to start running his own businesses earlier this year because he wanted to give his clients a top-of-the-line experience. His modified Dodge Ram is equipped with 8 comfy open air suspension seats that not only hug the passengers, but are also equipped with seat warmers, something that came in handy on our fall excursion. Continue Reading…