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.

Torres describes the connections he has made as, “like family.”

I was surprised to learn that on 98 percent of Torres’ excursions he’s alone. He’s considered a “backpack journalists,” doing all his own photography, writing and editing of a story and often sending it in while still on the road – from his hotel room or a coffee shop in Crested Butte or a barbeque joint in Fairplay.

His upcoming special, “Storytellers: Small Town Stories,” is a compilation of Torres’ personal favorite segments from his small town adventures. I think this special is a perfect fit for HeidiTown citizens as my readers have a particular interest in the subject of small towns.

9News Storytellers Small Town Stories banner

While it’s not easy to pick a favorite from his favorites, Torres loves his “Storyteller” segment called, “The Tank.” The segment, shot in northwest Colorado, is part of the special that Torres will host on October 25. Watch the show to find out how an old water tank is now luring world-class musicians to the Town of Rangely.

“My favorite part of being a reporter on the “Storytellers” series is getting to meet interesting people and tell stories about regular folks whose lives otherwise go unnoticed,” says Torres. “There are lots of people out there who feel like they won’t get on television unless they are a famous celebrity or commit a crime, but the fact of the matter is that there are so many normal, average people with hidden talents who should share them with the world. I’m grateful that I get to help share those stories.”

The “Storytellers: Small Town Stories” special on 9News airs Saturday, October 25 at 7:30 p.m.

I’ve already set my DVR.

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.

***

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.

Today, photography in the museum is prohibited (it was not on our first trip pack in 2009, and that’s why I have photographs of the inside of the museum). However, you can snap a photo in the photo booth and upload it to Facebook letting your friends know that you were at the Hotel de Paris. Brilliant.

mustache Heidi at Hotel de Paris in Georgetown, Colorado. HeidiTown.com

Because who doesn’t want a fabulous Louis Dupuy mustache?

On this recent trip, we stayed at the beautiful Hotel Chateaux Chamonix, situated on Clear Creek. The leaves were changing color and the wind off of Guenella Pass, high above the town, had a frosty feel.

The view from our patio at Hotel Chateaux Chamonix in Georgetown, Colorado. HeidiTown.com

The view from our patio at Hotel Chateaux Chamonix in Georgetown, Colorado.

The Hotel de Paris Museum never ceases to impress me and I’m not the only one. The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently named Hotel de Paris Museum as one of “Sixteen Sites to See.”

And of course, I agree with the NTHP. It’s worth the short drive to Georgetown to visit this one-of-a-kind hotel museum, and of course, the town’s lots of fun too. I encourage you to make a weekend of it.

Watch for my article entitled “Georgetown, a Colorado Christmas town” in the November/December 2014 holiday issue of Lydia’s Style Magazine.

Visit the museum online at HoteldeParisMuseum.org.

Please note that winter hours are weekends only through December 14. The museum closes and then re-opens with summer hours on Memorial Day Weekend. Private tours can be arranged year round.

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.

On the day of our outing there were six of us in the truck and the morning was cool. Michael picked us up in front of our hotel, The Matterhorn Inn, and we were off for a day of exploring the back country around Ouray and we were going to get high – real high. Michael was taking us to the top of Imogene Pass, the second highest drivable pass in Colorado at 13,114 feet above sea level.

As we turned off the pave road and onto the gravel road, the truck began to climb. Michael continually turned the truck onto “roads” that didn’t appear to me to be roads at all, but no matter the size of the boulder the truck clamored over our ride was surprisingly smooth, and while some of the insane drop offs gave me chills I felt secure

Waterfall on the way to the top of Imogene Pass with Alpine Scenic Tours out of Ouray, Colorado. HeidiTown.com

Posing with a waterfall on the way to the top of Imogene Pass with Alpine Scenic Tours out of Ouray, Colorado. HeidiTown.com

As we climbed the air smelled like pine trees, a scent that always reminds me of camping, and the breeze took on a clean, crisp smell as the truck rumbled beyond the tree line.

Imogene Pass with Alpine Scenic Tours in Ouray, Colorado. HeidiTown.com

At the top we were treated to 360 degree views. We could see the Telluride airport and then, in the far distance, the canyon lands of Utah.

The view from Imogene Pass. Alpine Scenic Tours, Ouray, Colorado. HeidiTown.com

Alpine Scenic Tours at the top of Imogene Pass outside of Ouray, Colorado. HeidiTown.com

Top of Imogene Pass outside of Ouray, Colorado. Alpine Scenic Tours. HeidiTown.com

The experience was fabulous. We stopped several times; once to admire an amazing waterfall, another time to explore an old mine shaft and again when I asked to take photos of some of the season’s left over wildflowers.

Last of the wildflowers on Imogene Pass in September 2013. Alpine Scenic Tours, Ouray, Colorado. HeidiTown.com

An excursion like this one is a wonderful opportunity to see back country that many people would never get to see otherwise. And if you do it with Alpine Scenic Tours, you will get a top notch, luxury experience.

a view of the Red Mountains from atop Imogene Pass outside of Ouray, Colorado. A 4-wheel drive excursion with Alpine Scenic Tours. HeidiTown.com

Thank you to Ouray, Colorado for hosting us on this trip and setting up our tour with Alpine Scenic Tours.

Loveland has been a Mecca for art and artists since the 1970s, and while sculpture has been the traditional medium of choice in the town, a shift towards other art mediums has occurred over the last several years. This isn’t to say that Loveland’s sculpture community is going way – that practice has deep, strong roots, but today, Loveland is a place where many different sorts of artists to hone their craft.

Reclaimed steel & glass. By JADE ART.

Reclaimed steel & glass. By JADE ART. Photo courtesy LAST on Facebook.

There is no better way to see this art renaissance in action than during the 6th Annual Loveland Art Studio Tour in October. This free event is an opportunity to explore Loveland’s artistic culture and soak up the ambiance of this creative community.

The official Loveland Art Studio Tour runs October 11 & 12 and 18 & 19. These two weekends give visitors a chance to visit more than 35 studios where numerous local artists will display their works from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m each day. The real bonus, in my opinion, is that the artists will be available to chat with you.

Anglea Canada Hopkins, artist.  Photo by Erik Stenbakken, 2009. Courtesy of LAST on Facebook.

Anglea Canada Hopkins, artist. Photo by Erik Stenbakken, 2009. Courtesy of LAST on Facebook.

My best memories of visiting art galleries during my travels are the times when I got to meet the artists and talk with them about their work. I know that talking to an artist and about his or her work adds a new level of significance to the art piece that I am viewing. Sometimes these powerful insights into the mind of an artist can change your entire perspective on their work. Perhaps you’ll find time to ask artist Kerri Ertman what she had in mind when she created this whimsical skeleton piece.

Happily Ever Ever by Kerri Ertman. Courtesy LAST on Facebook

Happily Ever After by Kerri Ertman. Courtesy LAST on Facebook

The organizers of the Loveland Art Studio Tour realize that art isn’t just for grownups, and in fact, exposing children to art can instill a lifelong love, even if that child is like me and can only ever draw stick figures. This is why, in addition to the art studio tours, visitors can visit several other Loveland landmarks where their children can experience hands on art projects at no cost.

CreatorSpace at 125 East 5th Street will have multiple activities including a cardboard challenge, robots and simple circuits. Stop at the Timberlane Farm Museum at 2306 East First Street to visit the animals and create a corn husk doll with your kids. Osborn Farms at 1230 South Boise is where your child can pick a perfect Halloween pumpkin.

Belgian Horse at Timberlane Farm Museum HeidiTown

Belgian Horse at Timberlane Farm Museum.

Life is short – it’s time to add a little art into it by visiting Loveland this October. Be sure to pick up a Loveland Art Studio Tour brochure when you arrive in town. It has a map and coupons for deals around town such as $2 off a bottle of wine at Mrs. Torrelli’s Wine Flat. You can pick up the brochure at Lincoln Gallery, Independence Gallery, Schissler Academy, Lola’s Fresh Patina and Artworks.

Loveland Art Studio Tour

October 11-12 & 18-19, 2014

Loveland, Colorado

LovelandArtStudioTour.com

Join LAST on Facebook

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

I love fall, and I adore fall in Colorado. We may not have the reputation of places like New England or Wisconsin, but autumn in Colorado is quite grand, and perhaps it’s been overlooked for too long.

Monarch Pass on September 21, 2014. HeidiTown.com

Monarch Pass on September 21, 2014.  Shot through the car window with my phone because we were in a big hurry to make it to civilization so that we could watch the Bronco game. I really should have stopped and taken a photo with my real camera.

The usual way to celebrate fall in Colorado is to go leaf peeping. Every online and print publication has articles about it; I published my 3-part Colorado fall travel series earlier this month.

I decided to find some additional ways that you can experience and celebrate all the wonderful things Colorado has to offer during this season of change.

1. EAT. This is the time of year to taste the bounty of Colorado’s summertime harvest and there’s no better place to do that then at The Living Farm Café in Paonia, Colorado. I previously wrote about my experiences at this café and farm here. Continue Reading…

Berthoud Oktoberfest Logo 2014The goal of Berthoud Oktoberfest is to bring a little bit of Germany to Northern Colorado. Located between Longmont and Loveland, Berthoud is a charming town of 5000. It’s a bit of throwback community, eliciting memories of Norman Rockwell paintings.

It’s this setting that makes Berthoud the perfect place to hold an authentic Oktoberfest.

I am co-founder of Berthoud Oktoberfest. As a reporter for the local newspaper, I thought Berthoud was the perfect place to hold an Oktoberfest. It’s an adorable town and there are many there who trace their roots back to Germany.

Chalet Dancers at Berthoud Oktoberfest 2013. HeidiTown.com

Along with the owner of the local newspaper, I threw together the first Berthoud Oktoberfest in 2010 in less than two months – and it was a smashing success. Several thousand people showed up to polka, drink beer and listen to Oomph music, and we’ve been doing the same thing on the first Saturday in October ever since.

This year is very similar to past years. Music will be provided by Steve Rock Tanzkapelle, a polka band from the Denver area and the Dick Zavodny Polka Band from Loveland. Both bands have been playing with us since the beginning and they keep the festival goers dancing all day.

Dick Zavodny Polka Band at Berthoud Oktoberfest. HeidiTown.com

This year the Chalet Dancers from Castle Rock will perform their tradition German dance routine at 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. Last year, some festival goers missed the Chalet Dancers entertaining routine, so they will perform twice this year.

Along with music and dancing festival goers will enjoy beer from Berthoud Brewing (Berthoud), City Star Brewing (Berthoud) and Grimm Brothers Brewhouse (Loveland).

In keeping with our authentic theme, food is provided by our German food vendor, including traditional Bavarian pretzels.

There’s even a tent that you can visit and look up your families German heritage.

In addition, there will be a pretzel eating contest for the kids (two age groups), as well as a best dirdl contest and best lederhosen contest. There are two fantastic prizes for each winner of the dirdl/lederhosen contest – a free hotel stay at a Marriott in Longmont, Colorado. The winners of the pretzel eating contest will receive an illustrated edition of Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

kid with pretzel at Berthoud Oktoberfest. HeidiTown.com

happy little kid at pretzel eating contest at Berthoud Oktoberfest. HeidiTown.com

Berthoud Oktoberfest is good family fun with lots of activities planned for children – and I’m not just talking about the chicken dance, which is always a crowd pleaser. The St. Vrain Soccer Club will be running soccer demonstrations on the south end of the park and all ages may join.

Whether you’re 2 days old or 102, Berthoud Oktoberfest is for you. Bring your stein or buy one from this year’s brand new vendor, German Steins & Souvenirs.

Berthoud Oktoberfest

Saturday, October 4, 2014

11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Fickel Park, Berthoud, Colorado

ADMISSION IS ALWAYS FREE

www.BerthoudOktoberfest.com

Join the fest on Facebook here!

BDT Stage Boulder Dinner Theatre logo“The Church Basement Ladies” is back on stage at Boulder’s Dinner Theatre. The show was so popular last fall that BDT director, Michael J. Duran, decided to produce the sequel this fall. There are five Church Basement Ladies sequels, and listening to the crowd’s response to this one, I have a feeling Colorado will eventually be treated to them all.

Boulder’s Dinner Theater has repackaged their venue as the BDT Stage, and you’ll find their brand new logo already on their Facebook page and twitter account. And here’s a hint. If you check in on Facebook when you arrive at the theater you’ll be entered into a drawing for a free dessert.

We missed the first “Church Basement Ladies,” and I was not about to miss the sequel, “A Second Helping.” Thankfully, you do not have to have seen the first play to enjoy this sequel as they are each standalone stories.  Continue Reading…

Steamboat is not just a ski destination. I could write a speech on that subject. A good friend of mine moved there nearly a decade ago so I’ve become well acquainted with the town, and it’s a great place to become well acquainted with.

This is a good fall destination because whether you drive the I70 to Silverthorne route or the Poudre Canyon route, the fall foliage is incredible. No matter the route, keep your camera at the ready.

Fall Hike Steamboat Springs, Colorado. 2012_Lukens (2)

The Boat, as I fondly call Steamboat, is far removed from the craziness of the Colorado’s Front Range. Life slows down as you descend into the valley from Rabbit Ears Pass. Locals enjoy a laid back, highly recreational life style and it’s fun to join them for a weekend.

Whether you book a room downtown at the historic Rabbit Ears Hotel (I’ve stayed there and it’s within walking distance of everything) or if you splurge a little and stay at my current favorite, The Steamboat Inn, you’ll love the Steamboat Springs in the fall. Continue Reading…

With HDTV, the newest Apple gadget or the car that drives itself, sometimes it feels like it’s pretty difficult to impress people. We expect the latest thingamajig to be 100 times better than the last version. We expect movie graphics to be amazing. We expect, we expect, we expect…

That’s why being unexpectedly blown away by Chihuly at Denver Botanic Gardens was such a nice feeling. I was genuinely amazed by the experience, and it’s a feeling that will stick with me for a very long time.

Chihuly at Denver Botanic Gardens 2014 - HeidiTown (28)Despite being from the Pacific Northwest, the home of Chihuly, the artist didn’t really come to my attention until I saw a huge display of his work at a studio in Santa Fe, New Mexico a decade ago. Like most people, I loved it.

Fast forward, and today his work is everywhere and it always draws my eye. My husband recently crafted a beautiful custom Colorado blue-stained pine curio for a client’s Chihuly glass collection.

It seemed like Chihuly had been popping up everywhere when low and behold I got a press release stating his work would be displayed at the Denver Botanic Gardens. Continue Reading…