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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…

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…

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…