I think swing music is happy music, and that’s why I love the Glenn Miller Swing Festival in Fort Morgan, Colorado. This is a happy event that celebrates one of this town’s favorite sons, Glenn Miller.
World famous big band musician, Glenn Miller, went to high school in Fort Morgan. The story goes, in addition to football, as a high schooler, Miller loved music and skipped his own graduation ceremony to head to Laramie, Wyoming to play in a band. His mother had to pick up his diploma for him.
While Miller’s life story didn’t have a happy ending — he was lost in a plane disappearance during WWII at the age of 40 — the Eastern Colorado town of Fort Morgan annually honors his memory with festivities.
The Grand Plan
A true Americana kind of town, Fort Morgan is an idyllic place to celebrate this style of music, and for three days the town comes alive with the sound of brass and drums.
Part community festival, part music festival, Glenn Miller Swing Fest welcomes swing music aficionados from around the country to partake in the event.
This is a sort of “pick and choose your adventure” sort of festival with a variety of events starting on Thursday evening and ending on Saturday night. The schedule includes history presentations about Glenn Miller, a community barbeque, social cocktail gatherings, Glenn Miller movies, a street dance and more. Nearly all of these events include live music.
A Swingin’ Kind of Town
Only an hour from Denver, Fort Morgan, located in Morgan County, is where the “prairie meets the sky,” and I’m here to tell you that it’s a beautiful and somewhat under appreciated area of Colorado.
One of my favorite Thai restaurants is located in Fort Morgan, Little Bamboo, and one of the state’s most fantastic Italian restaurants, O’ Sole Mio Trattoria Italiana is also in town.
This isn’t the big city and the sidewalks roll up at night, but that’s part of Fort Morgan’s charm. It’s a true throwback, the kind of place that still has an old-fashioned movie theater on Main Street.
Whether you go for the day or the weekend, Glenn Miller Swing Fest in Fort Morgan is a toe tappin’ good time. For more info on where to stay, where to eat and what to do in Morgan County, visit MorganCountyTourism.com.
Glenn Miller Swing Festival
August 17-19, 2017
Events take place around Fort Morgan, Colorado
*some events are ticketed (see festival website for details)
Note from the Mayor: This event has a big heart as well as strong community roots and is one of the festivals that inspired me to focus on Colorado’s small town festivals back in 2010. I am delighted that individuals within Fort Morgan and Morgan County recognize the benefits of continuing this unique festival.
Featured Festivals spots on HeidiTown are paid advertisements. If you’d like to have your festival or event considered for a feature contact TheMayor@HeidiTown.com. Thank you!
This is not a post about the island in the Caribbean. This is a post about Trinidad, Colorado. You may have heard about it. Over the years, Trinidad became well-known as the sex change capital of the United States.
Interestingly, the clinic that put the town on the map for sex change surgery, moved to California a number of years ago, but preconceptions die hard, especially when a town’s sex change reputation is big enough to have made it onto an episode of South Park.
Before I visited Trinidad this past summer, it was 1) the sex change capital of the United States 2) a place I drove through on my way to New Mexico and 3) the place my friend Amanda, who makes the world’s best green chile, grew up.
After visiting Trinidad, I’ve developed an entirely new perspective on the town. It’s a place where no one is a stranger, where art thrives and history runs deep, where waiters sing and the positive energy is so thick it’s hard not to get caught up in its flow. 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.
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
Colorado is now home to the most challenging cycling race in the United States, the US Pro Cycling Challenge. The race is 683 miles, attracts world class cyclists and winds its way through some of Colorado’s most charming towns.
There are 126 riders in the race from 24 countries including Boulder, Colorado’s own Taylor Phinney, who secured two fourth place finishes at the London, Olympics.
The US Pro Challenge gets underway on Monday, August 20 and runs through August 26.
The race is reason enough to head up to the Rockies during the week of US Pro Challenge, but here are some extra incentives from the Mayor of HeidiTown.
Stage One – Durango to Telluride
Durango is home to one of my favorite breweries and it’s not just the Durango Brewery beer that makes me love this place – it’s the hammock chairs on the brewery’s patio. Plus, this is the 3rd oldest micro-brewery in Colorado, which is pretty damn cool.
Telluride is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visted. If you haven’t witnesses it for yourself, it’s time to go.
Stage Two – Montrose to Crested Butte
There are two reasons to love Montrose – chocolate and wine. Of course, there are other reasons too, like fly fishing, hiking, biking, golfing, rafting, Black Canyon National Park and more, but chocolate and wine do it for me.
The Crested Butte Wild Flower Festival. It’s already happened this year, but you can still see lots of wildflowers in this breathtaking region of Colorado.
Stage Three – Gunnison to Aspen
The area around Gunnison is truly wild. Scenic byways and wildness areas abound. Be sure to pack your camera when visiting.
I enjoy reminding people that Aspen, Colorado is more than just a ski town and more than just a place to spot celebrities. Aspen is an authentic historic mining town. The Aspen Historical Society tells the real story of Aspen.
Stage 4 – Aspen to Beaver Creek
I check a lot of calendars and get a lot of press releases, and there’s always something happening in Beaver Creek, whether it’s a wine and spirit festival, a culinary event or live music, you can always find a refined event taking place here. Like their tag line says, Beaver Creek, not exactly roughing it.
Stage 5 – Breckenridge to Colorado Springs
I like Breck because it’s a real town, not just a ski resort. Breckenridge has history and community, and you can feel both when you visit. Plus, they have some outstanding festivals like Breckenridge Oktoberfest, Ullr Fest and the International Snow Sculpture Championships.
Stage 6 – Golden to Boulder
I was married at Boettcher Mansion on Lookout Mountain in Golden, so the town will also hold a special place in my heart. It’s also home to Coors and the Colorado Railroad Museum, so you just can’t go wrong when you visit this town.
Lately, my fondness for Boulder has been food-related, and that’s because the city is home to some of my favorite restaurants in Colorado including The Kitchen and The Mediterranean. To keep up with the food scene in Boulder, I recommend following food blogger, Grace Boyle at Grace (full) Plate.
Stage 7 – Denver
What can I say? I love Denver, and it’s quite impossible for me to pick the one thing I love the most.
So there you have it; the seven stages of this seven day race and my two-cents about the towns that will be hosting each stage. Go to USAProCyclingChallenge.com to learn more about the US Pro Cycling Challenge.
If you are anything like me, you plan ahead – especially when it comes to the busy summer months.
On that note, I’m going to do my very best to give you a heads up on Colorado summer festivals well before they happen. This way, you can fill up your summer calendar with lots of fun and not miss any of it!
I won’t always get ahead of stuff… sometimes I don’t even know it’s happening until it’s just a weekend away, but I will try to keep up to date on the events and festivals that I think fall into the category of “stuff the Mayor likes.”
Also, watch for giveaways this summer. If you haven’t joined HeidiTown’s “party block” on Facebook, I’d definitely recommend doing so (that’s where I often give hints about giveaways on the blog). That is also the place where I can give you last minute details on lots of events that I don’t have time to write-up here.
Lastly, if you would like to advertise your event or festival on HeidiTown, shoot me an email and I’ll hook you up with a Press Kit, rates and site info. One month or two month ad space is available. Let’s chat! TheMayor@HeidiTown.com
Thanks for supporting this town! It’s going to be a GREAT Colorado summer!!!
Spring has sprung in HeidiTown. The birds are singing, the fields outside of town are greening up and there’s a feeling of warmth in the air. This time of year puts me in the mood for road trips and Sunday afternoon drives.
Metromix Denver recently released an article naming the 25 small Colorado towns to visit under $100. There was some misinformation in this article – Windsor was not “destroyed” by a tornado in 2008 – but overall it had some good tips on small towns to visit around the state.
It got me wondering what towns I’d put on such a list. There are so many great communities around Colorado and each has it’s own unique flavor. If I were to get in my car and take a Sunday afternoon drive there are lots of fun towns I’d could visit, so I thought I’d highlight them in a new reoccurring Friday post called Sunday Afternoon Drive. The post won’t run every Friday, but at least a couple per month.
This town of 5,000 is approximately 45 minutes north of Denver. It has a rich agricultural history, and that story is told in the town’s comprehensive and delightful Pioneer Museum. The Berthoud Historical Society is one of the most active historical societies in Northern Colorado, and their work to preserve the history of the area is outstanding and commendable.
The museum won’t be open on a Sunday, and not much else in town will be either, but that’s the case in many small towns across America.
I am very familiar with Berthoud, Colorado because for the past five and a half years I’ve written for the town’s newspaper, the Berthoud Weekly Surveyor. I’ve met hundreds of people during my years working for the paper, some very young, some business owners, and many “old timers,” but every one of them was interesting and unique. I’ve really grown to cherish the community.
Berthoud is the kind of place where if a kid decides to play hooky someone will surely see them and tell their mother. It’s a true slice of Americana. There are no big chain stores, just one small grocer, an Ace, and a handful of restaurants and gift shops. The grocery store is Hay’s Market and I love shopping there. You won’t run into nicer deli staff anywhere, and I actually look forward to stopping in and doing a little shopping at Hay’s.
Berthoud’s nickname is “The Garden Spot” and many residents’ landscaping lives up to the name. The homes around Fickel Park are truly beautiful and in late spring and early summer I’d encourage you to ditch your car and stroll through down these charming streets.
Nothing beats an authentic root beer float on a warm afternoon, so when you drive through Berthoud, be sure to stop at the historic A&W, located at 802 Mountain Ave. This place is a HeidiTown favorite, but the biggest fan of all might be my husband, who is always asking to meet me for lunch there. Locally owned since 1971, people drive for miles just to experience a bit of old fashion Americana at Berthoud’s A&W.
So there you have it – my first Sunday Afternoon Drive post. I look forward to introducing you to many more communities along the Front Range in the months to come.
For my subscribers, you are probably getting this on Saturday morning and for that I apologize. In the future I will try to get this posted on Thursday night so the email will land in your inbox on Friday morning.
The oldest community festival in Loveland, Colorado is just around the corner.
Read all about Loveland’s Old Fashion Corn Roast Festival by clicking here.
Read all about Niwot, Colorado’s First Annual Left Handers Day celebration by clicking here.
Festivities start Thursday, August 12, 2010.
Colorado will be lucky to experience two upcoming performances by this husband/wife duo out of Texas. Hilary Claire Adamson and Stuart Adamson make up the Flyin’ A’s, a name that comes from Stuart Adamson’s family cattle brand registered in Texas’ Jones County at the turn of the century.
The Flyin’s A’s perform original music that is a mix of Americana, Country, Southern Blues, and “Texified” Jazz. The band tours the country, playing many venues from house parties to festivals including the Kerrville Folk Festival (Austin) and Summerfest (Colorado), among others.
The group has produced one CD together entitled “BlackTop, Back Roads,” with a second due out this fall.
I was recently introduced to this band’s music and I am very excited that they are coming to Colorado. This Friday, June 18, at 7:30 p.m. The Flyin’ A’s will play a free show at Hemple Auditorium at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park.
The following Friday, June 25, at 7:00 p.m., The Flyin’ A’s will play at Boulder’s Rock & Soul CafÃ©, along with the Willie Hammond Band. Cover, $8.
For a full tour schedule and to hear their music, visit The Flyin’ J’s Web site at www.theflyinas.com
The Mayor thinks the Foote Lagoon in Loveland, Colorado, is one of the best small town outdoor music venues in the state. The lagoon is located at 500 E. 3rd Street, in historic old town. Join the fun at these FREE, Thursday summer evening concerts. Each concerts start at 7 p.m.
June 17 – The Jurrassicasters play classic rock and roll hits from the The Who to Peter Gabriel, plus much, much more. The band has been playing together since 1993. Learn more and hear their music at www.reverbnation.com/thejurassicasters.
June 24 – Kizuma is sure to get the Foote Lagoon audience dancing. This Afro-Caribbean band plays salsa, merengue, zouk, soca, kompa, meren-rap, and other Caribbean rhythms. The 11 band members originate from Columbia, Mexico, The Dominican Republic and the US. Kizuma have played the Denver area for 15 years and won the 1st “Westwards Best Latin Band in Denver” award. Visit them online at www.kizumba.com.
July 1 – Cool Shooz is an award winning a cappella rock and roll band. The five members have been entertaining Denver area crowds for over twenty years. Visit them on the Web at www.coolshooz.com.
July 8 – The Elders are the Mayor’s all-time favorite band. I’ve written about this Kansas City Celtic band here at HeidiTown multiple times. If you haven’t had the pleasure of tapping your toes to The Elders tunes, get to the Foote Lagoon on July 8, or attend the Rocky Mountain Irish Festival in August. Learn more about the band at www.eldersmusic.com.
July 15 – Heidi & the Rhythm Rollers is a band working to keep old fashion jazz and blues alive. Lead vocalist, Heidi Hamill is a native Coloradoan. With locks of flaming red hair and lipstick red lips, Heidi and her Rhythm Rollers are sure to have the lagoon crowd swinging in the aisles. See videos of the band perform at www.heidiandtherhythmrollers.com.
July 22 – Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem features a fiddle, a guitar, a standup bass, a cardboard box and a suitcase bass drum and tin can cymbals. This band tours the country and Loveland is lucky to have them this summer. Listen to their unique sound and meet the band at their Web site, www.raniarbo.com.
July 29 – Brad Fitch & the TropiCowboy Band play original acoustic folk, family and western music. Based out of Estes Park, Colorado, fans have been known to plan their vacations around Brad Fitch’s performances. Learn more about the band online at www.tropicowboy.com.
August 5 – Wendy Woo is a singer/songwriter who grew up in Boulder, Colorado. Woo is a popular independent artist who has release 8 albums under her own record label. She has played everywhere from Red Rocks to Eddie’s Attic in Decatur, Georgia. She’s played the Foote Lagoon Concert Series multiple times and Loveland is happy to have her playing once again. Visit Woo’s Web site at www.wendywoo.com.