Calling all Lords & Ladies,
Hear ye, hear ye! The Colorado Medieval Festival is back and better than ever.
Presented by The Savage Woods, the event will be held under the trees in west Loveland, Colorado.
The minstrels will sing, the bees will buzz happily around the mead and beer and the sound of sword play will echo throughout the Northern Colorado’s forests and glades.
Merriment will be had by all.

Colorado Medieval Festival LOGO

While this event has struggled to gain a foothold in Northern Colorado in the past, this year, the new event managers, The Savage Woods, LLC, has brought together a cornucopia of vendors and entertainers for a three-day medieval extravaganza.

More than 40 vendors have signed up to take part in the event, and Kitty Wild, owner of The Savage Woods, has worked hard to the vendor lineup relevant to the festival’s theme. There will be jewelry makers, wood craftsman, soap makers, Renaissance style clothing and so much more.

Kevin Weekley Magician. Colorado Medieval Festival. HeidiTown.com

In addition to the “village market,” guest at the Colorado Medieval Festival are welcomed to enjoy adult beverages; the kind that would have been served in the Middle Ages. Hunters Moon Meadery of Severance, Colorado, will provide a variety of meads while Buckhorn Brewers will provide the ale. And the day will not be complete without a turkey leg from Blind Peasant Productions.

Blind Peasant, food vendor at the Colorado Medieval Festival in Loveland, Colorado. HeidiTown.com

Once you’ve got your drink and meat, it’s time for entertainment, and the Colorado Medieval Festival has a little something for everyone. Of course, music will play a big part in the weekend’s festivities, but so too will swordplay.

The Society for Create Anachronisms will be represented at the festival. This is an organization dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe including clothing, dancing and more.

Scottish Highland Games athletes will also be attendance, displaying their superb skills at throwing and tossing large and very heavy objects.

In addition, Castle Wall Productions, a theatrical combat troop specializing in live-steel entertainment, will be on hand to exhibit their skills as swordsman and swordswomen.

Hunters Moon Meadery, Colorado Medieval Festival

With this incredible lineup of entertainment and delightful shopping experience, the Colorado Medieval Festival is sure to be a memorable weekend of fun for the entire family. And at just $8 per person (children 5 and under free) it’s a fantastically affordable festival – huzzah!

Colorado Medieval Festival

June 5-7, 2015

Friday, 12 to 6 p.m.

Saturday & Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

1750 Savage Road, Loveland, Colorado 80538

Tickets  – $8, available at the door (children 5  & under free)

ColoradoCastle.com

Join the fest on Facebook here

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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.

Part One: The train

Do you like trains? Do you like history? Do you like beautiful scenery? Do you like the movies? If you answered yes to any of these you’ll enjoy the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. If you answered yes to more than one of these questions, you love this scenic railroad.

Ray Martinez, conductor of the Cumbres & Toltec Railroad. HeidiTown, photo by Alanna Brake

Ray Martinez, conductor of the Cumbres & Toltec Railroad.

The Cumbres & Toltec really is the most authentic scenic railroad you’ll find in the United States and it is just 4 hours from Denver.

Here are just a few reasons why I think this train is so interesting. It is the longest (in terms of mileage) scenic railroad running in the United States. It runs between Antonito, Colorado and Chama, New Mexico; a 64 miles stretch of original railroad. During the trip you’ll weave in and out of Colorado and New Mexico 11 times. On the full trip, the train stops three times for water; it is a steam train after all, and water is vital to keeping it chugging along.

Lastly, Hollywood loves this train. It has been part of many, many movies, perhaps the most famous being “Indian Jones & the Last Crusade.”

Recognize this sign  Inside the Friends shop at the Cumbres & Toltec Railroad you'll find an array of movie momentos. HeidiTown.com, photo by Alanna Brake

Recognize this sign ? Inside the Friends’ shop at the Cumbres & Toltec Railroad you’ll find an array of movie mementos.

The train crosses the bridge at the Cascades along the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad route. HeidiTown.com, photo by Alanna Brake

The train crosses the bridge at the Cascades along the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad route.

The train is owned by the State of Colorado and the State of New Mexico, meaning that if you are a resident of either state, you are part owner of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad.

The Friend of the Cumbres & Toltec Railroad are a vital reason it continues to run today. When the railroad closed down in 1965, the Rio Grande wanted to tear up the entire line, but the Friends were formed and came to the rescue and by 1970, the train was up and running as a scenic railroad.

Today there are 2500 members of the Friends and they come from all over the world. They still play a vital part in keeping the train running by raising money and helping to restore rail cars and historic buildings along the line. The Friends also provide knowledgeable docents on every train ride. This volunteer is a wealth of information so take advantage of their knowledge and ask lots of questions.

Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer, founder of HeidiTown.com and Bob Ross, chairman of the board of the friends of the cumbres & toltec scenic railroad.

Bob Ross and I aboard the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. Mr. Ross is the Chairman of the Board of the Friends of the railroad & he was the docent on our trip. He’s been riding this train since the 1950s.

The dining car aboard the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. HeidiTown.com, photo by Alanna Brake

The dining car aboard the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad.

I experienced the ride from Antonito to Chama and the scenery is spectacularly dynamic. You start out in the flat prairies where it’s not uncommon to see herds of antelope running away from or alongside the train. Slowly, the train begins to climb and the scene changes. The scrub oak becomes aspens and pine trees and the air smells sweet and fresh.

As we pulled away from the station in Antonito it was as if we were rolling away from modern day life and rolling into history.

The view from the Antonito, Colorado side. On the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. HeidiTown.com, photo by Alanna Brake

The view from the Antonito, Colorado side. On the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad.

There are six different types of train rides to choose from on the Cumbres & Toltec. Click here to see schedule and fares.

My friend and professional photographer, Alanna Brake, came along on this trip and was able to capture the experience in beautiful photographs. Here are a few more of her amazing captures.

The view from the caboose on the Cumbres &Toltec Railroad in early spring. HeidiTown.com, photo by Alanna Brake

The view from the caboose on the Cumbres &Toltec Railroad in early spring.

spectauclar scenery unfolds around every corner. Aboard the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. HeidiTown.com, photos by Alanna Brake

Spectacular scenery unfolds around every corner. Aboard the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad.

You have to look closely to spot some of the neat stuff you'll see while riding the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. HeidiTown.com, photos by Alanna Brake

You have to look closely to spot some of the neat stuff you’ll see while riding the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad.

Thank you to the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad for hosting us on this trip.

One of Northern Colorado’s best – if not the best - beer festival is just around the corner. Front Range Rally is in its third year and it just keeps getting better.

Front-Range-Rally-FINAL-150x150

This craft beer and food truck rally is held as a benefit for the Food Bank for Larimer County, so you can be happy in the knowledge that you are drinking and eating for a good cause.

What makes this particular Loveland-based beer festival unique are the food trucks. This year there will be 12 food trucks serving up everything from wood fired pizza to wings. This year there’s even a truck serving soups and salads for those looking for lighter fare. Of course, there will be several barbeque food trucks to choose from too. If you want to go a little more “high end,” the Mile High Lobster Shack will fix you up with a lobster roll that will have you dreaming of the ocean.

Food truck at Front Range Rally. Photo by Emily Sierra Photography. HeidiTown.com

While the food is good, most of us attend Front Range Rally for the beer and there will be lots of wonderful craft beer at this year’s event. In fact, 50 breweries will be serving up their delicious brews and even a few craft distilleries have snuck in this year too.

There will be several breweries in attendance that I haven’t seen at any other festival yet including Weldwerks Brewing from Greeley and Odyssey Beerwerks from Arvada.

With over 130 unique beers being poured at Front Range Rally, you’re sure to find one or two or 12 that suits your fancy.

Brewery's pouring beer at Front Range Rally. Photo by Emily Sierra Photography. HeidiTown.com

For those who purchase a VIP ticket, the day will include early entry to the fest (1:30 p.m.), access to a VIP tent which features exclusive beer varieties, seating, shade and a private restroom. For an additional $10 you can attend an American Sours seminar presented by five brewers at 3 p.m.

Front Range Rally

May 30, 2015

2600 N. Lincoln Ave., Loveland, Colorado

2:30 to 7 p.m.

VIP session starts at 1:30

Tickets can be purchased at FrontRangeRally.com

Join this festival on Facebook!

Lisa Levy made herself a brewery sticker shirt at Front Range Rally. Photo by Emily Sierra Photography. 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.

For folks living in Colorado, it is vital to have a parks pass. After all, there are 42 state parks to explore and whether you boat, fish, horseback ride, ATV, camp or just like to day hike, you’ll need a Colorado parks pass in order to access all this fun.

Sailing on Boyd Lake, Colorado. HeidiTown.com

Boyd Lake State Park

A trip to a state park doesn’t have to be a big ordeal, in fact, parks such as Boyd Lake State Park in Loveland or Colorado’s newest state park, Staunton State Park near Denver, are easy destinations for a midweek picnic or summer outing with the kids.

There’s always something going on at Colorado’s state parks, whether it’s a guided birding walk at Barr Lake State Park or a kids nature program. There are even some programs that you probably didn’t know existed. For instance, did you know that you can rent a horse at Chatfield State Park and Mueller State Park?

Staunton State Park

Staunton State Park

There are also a variety of festivals that occur at various state parks around Colorado.

While dogs are not allowed into any of our country’s national park, Fido is welcome at 38 of the 42 Colorado State Parks. Please keep him on a leash unless you’re visiting a designated off-leash location.

Chatfield State Park, Colorado. HeidiTown.com

Chatfield State Park

A Colorado parks pass is good for one year from the month of purchase and it’s easier than ever to buy one because you can buy it online. Click here to purchase and you’ll receive your pass in the mail within 7 to 10 business days. Click here for a list of other places where you can purchase a Colorado Parks Pass.

Colorado Parks & Wildlife Online:

www.CPW.state.co.us

CO Parks & Wildlife on Facebook

CO Parks & Wildlife on Twitter

Colorado Parks & Wildlife logo

Second Chance Humane Society logoThis month’s recipient of HeidiTown Gives Back is Second Chance Humane Society in Ridgway, Colorado, just next door to Ouray. In fact, Second Chance not only serves Ouray and Ridgway, but the tri-county area of Ouray County, San Miguel County and Montrose County.

I started the HeidiTown Gives Back Campaign in January 2012. Each month, a Colorado nonprofit of my choosing gets a free ad space here on HeidiTown.com and a post about their organization. I chose Second Chance because I wanted to highlight an nonprofit near the location of the first annual HeidiTown Fest.

Spice the dog, available at Second Chance Humane Society. HeidiTown.com

Spice the dog, available at Second Chance Humane Society.

Second Chance is also the featured nonprofit at HeidiTown Fest. Throughout the festival weekend I will solicit donations for Second Chance at each of our social gatherings.

Second Chance has been in Ridgway for 21 years and in 2011, they purchased Angel Ridge Ranch. The 52 acres property allows them to run a cage free animal shelter. Haven’t heard of a cage free animal shelter? Neither had I, but the concept is gaining popularity within the animal rescue community.

Houdini the cat, available at Second Chance Humane Society. HeidiTown.com

Houdini the cat, available at Second Chance Humane Society.

Kelly Goodin, the executive direct of Second Chance says that studies have shown that dogs that don’t have to be cooped up in a cage while at a shelter are much less prone to sickness and much more emotionally stable.

The big upside for a cage free shelter is that a healthy, happy animal is much easier to adopt out and Second Chance rescues rarely spend more than a couple weeks at the facility.

This makes complete sense to me. I’m much happier and healthier when I can run free.

Falafel the Mastiff, available at Second Chance Humane Society. HeidiTown.com

Falafel the Mastiff, available at Second Chance Humane Society.

Second Chance rescue cats are also kept in a mostly cage free environment, although Goodin says some cats prefer a cage over being social.

Second Chance operates two thrift stores; one in Ridgway and one in Telluride. One hundred percent of the proceeds of these stores go directly to the shelter. If you’re in the area, go shop for a good cause!

Outreach is a big part of what Second Chance is all about. Their vision is, “loving homes for all pets” and their mission is “saving animals’ lives and promoting responsible pet parenting and the human-animal bond.”

Coraline the cat, available at Second Chance Humane Society. HeidiTown.com

Coraline the cat, available at Second Chance Humane Society.

They accomplish this through educational programs and even provide behavioral classes at the ranch, so that people can tackle issues before these issue result in the dog being surrendered to a shelter.

They also have an onsite clinic offering low cost spay and neutering service.

Please visit Second Chance Humane Society at AdoptMountainPets.org and like them on Facebook here.

HeidiTown FEst 2015 logoIt’s that time, time to featured HeidiTown Fest here on the blog.  I hope that you’ve already heard about this brand new festival that I’m hosting in Ouray, Colorado over Memorial Day weekend.

I’ve been thinking about throwing a HeidiTown Fest for a couple years, and I finally took the plunge. I’m both scared and excited about this year’s festival because first year events are always a bit stressful for the organizer.

I chose Ouray because it is one of the most beautiful places in Colorado and there are lots of gals named Heidi that call the town home, so it seemed like the perfect place to hold the inaugural fest.

You can find out all the nitty gritty details on the fest’s page here on HeidiTown.com, but let’s just say that HeidiTown Fest is all about celebrating Colorado. I am giving you the chance to experience Colorado the way I get to experience Colorado – like a VIP. Why should travel writers and bloggers have all the fun?

At HeidiTown Fest you’ll be adventuring during the day and enjoying HeidiTown parties at night. You will not be bored at this festival.

When you arrive at your hotel you’ll receive a welcome packet from me that will include all your passes, plus a sheet with tips on what other things you can do while in town; like eating at delicious restaurants or visiting a museum.

Grab your spouse, your kids or some friends and enjoy Ouray with me this Memorial Day weekend!

Please note that Second Chance Humane Society, the May recipient of HeidiTown Gives Back, will also be our featured nonprofit at the festival. There will be an opportunity to donate to this Ridgway animal shelter during the social gatherings throughout the weekend.

I plan to move HeidiTown Fest to a different Colorado town each year, so you can look forward to experiencing a new community and new area of the state every Memorial Day weekend.

HeidiTown Festival

May 23-24, 2015

CLICK HERE FOR ALL THE DETAILS!

HeidiTown Fest Poster 2015

What’s better than staying at a lovely Colorado bed and breakfast? Staying at a lovely Colorado bed and breakfast that’s also a goat farm and you can do just that at the Mountain Goat Lodge in Salida.

Gina and her goat Squirt at the Mountain Goat Lodge. He may be her favorite. HeidiTown.com

Gina and her goat Squirt at the Mountain Goat Lodge. If she had a favorite, Squirt would be it.

Despite a late spring snowstorm that threatened to thwart our plans, my friend Kerri and I arrived at the Mountain Goat Lodge much later than we expected on a Sunday evening. We first stopped in Salida for pizza at Amica Pizza & Microbrewery. It was either the best pizza we’d ever taste or we were very hungry, or a little of both.

Once at the Mountain Goat Lodge, we tucked into our room for the night, exhausted and looking forward to meeting the goats in the morning. Continue Reading…

Last week I was invited to Snowbank Brewing in Fort Collins to check out a Gociety get together. When I looked into Gociety I thought my readers may be interested, after all, citizens of HeidiTown are festival goers and adventure seekers.

What is Gociety? Gociety is a social media platform for active people; people who may be looking for trip reports or something more. Perhaps they are seeking friendship or even a relationship with another outdoor-loving adult.

Colorado Rockies. HeidiTown.com

Gociety members live for scenes like this.

The tagline on their website is “Meet Awesome People,” so the primary goal of Gociety is to bring together awesome, outdoorsy people.

Let’s say that you’ve just moved to Denver and you love to hike. How do you find the best trails? How do you find those hidden gems that only the locals know about? How do you find hiking buddies? That’s where Gociety comes in. Continue Reading…

Colorado spring weather is like a box of chocolates; you just never know what you’re going to get. I have experienced this time and time again while traveling Colorado.

This past weekend, I was caught in one heck of a crazy spring snow storm. It seemed as though six inches of thick, wet snow fell in less than an hour as we drove through the South Park area.

Kenosha pass area. Colorado travel, be prepared. Springtime in the Colorado Rockies. HeidiTown.com

Between Grant, Colorado & Kenosha pass in late April.

Myself, and my artist friend, Kerri Ertman, were headed to the Mountain Goat Lodge in Salida. We had both checked the weather before we struck out in Kerri’s brand new Jeep. The prediction was rain, rain, rain, so we were prepared to cuddle wet and muddy baby goats when we arrived in Salida.

The rain turned to snow in Conifer and as we crossed Kenosha pass and entered South Park, we found ourselves driving through thick, snowy fog. The fog slowly switched over to a driving snow that began collecting on the fields and roadway. Continue Reading…

One of my favorite things about being a Colorado travel writer is stumbling across roadside restaurant gems. I honestly never know when or where it’s going to happen.

We’re always looking for a good place to grab a meal, so if you know of a hidden roadside gem, please leave me a comment below. Without further ado, here are a few our our favorite roadside finds.

Villa Grove Trade, Villa Grove, Colorado

We discovered this place a couple of years ago on our way home from Durango and stopped there again a couple of weeks ago.

Villa Grove Trade in Villa Grove, Colorado. HeidiTown.com

You can’t miss Villa Grove Trade as it is one of the only places in Villa Grove, Colorado.

This place isn’t fancy. It’s a quirky restaurant with a small market that sells all sorts of artsy knickknacks that look as though they’ve been collecting dust for some time, but we don’t stop here to shop, we stop here for the sandwiches.

Made fresh-to-order, these sandwiches are like the ones I make at home, except better, and for less than $6, they are a deal to boot. Plus, the folks who work here couldn’t be nicer. Continue Reading…