There’s a little spot on Colorado’s Western Slope that’s home to flocks of sheep, fields of vegetables and orchards of fruit. Things move a little slower here and that’s just the way the people of the North Fork Valley like it. There are no freeways and very few stop lights; it’s a bit like going back in time, but better.
Mountain Harvest Festival is a celebration of the bounty of Paonia and the North Fork Valley, and you’re invited to participate in this annual event that’s a little earthy, kinda quirky, a bit country and entirely authentic.
This is a four-day festival that kicks off with food, which makes sense. There are Harvest to Table Dinners at Remedy and the Living Farm Cafe on Thursday night. These dinners feature locally grown, chemical and additive free food.
This festival is hosting a lot of local talent including writers, artists and musicians, and Thursday night is no exception. Harvest of Voices showcases both rising stars and award-winning writers reading from their works.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Mountain Harvest Festival are chockablock with events; I won’t name them all here, but I do want to highlight Saturday Sundown Swing, a ticketed event that features five venues and nine bands. From acoustic to rock, there’s a little something for everyone on tap. Buy an all access ticket (or entry to just one venue) here.
In addition to loads of music, this festival has a farmers’ market, grape stomp, kids area, a Wine Makers Dinner, a chili cookoff, hula hoop contest, local brews, ciders and wines, farm tours and more.
I’d highly recommend renting a bike from Cirque Cyclery in downtown Paonia and participating in Saturday’s Farm & Wine Tours. We had a blast exploring the area’s farms by bike during our 2016 visit (read about it here).
I am delighted to be attending the festival this year, because, despite the fact that I try not to play favorites, the North Fork Valley is one of my favorite spots in Colorado. I hope to see you there!
Mountain Harvest Festival
September 21-24, 2017
Free & ticketed events
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!
If you’re planning to celebrate the harvest season, why not do it in one of Colorado’s most bountiful areas? Mountain Harvest Festival takes place in the North Fork Valley, an area that is brimming with small family farms and vineyards.
I didn’t know about the North Fork Valley until three years ago, and the region has stolen my heart. It is located in Delta County on Colorado’s Western Slope. It’s 40 minutes east of Delta, which straddles Hwy 50, the road connecting Grand Junction and Ouray.
Farm-to-table has been part of everyday life in the North Fork Valley long before it became trendy. It is made up of three communities; Paonia, Hotchkiss and Crawford. Mountain Harvest Festival takes place in Paonia, but celebrates the entire region.
The four-day event kicks off on Thursday, September 22, with a variety of activities including a Farm-to-Table dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, The Living Farm Cafe.
Things really get going on Friday afternoon. There’s a pumpkin contest, bike parade, a Drink Locally event at Town Park and live music.
This festival is a celebration of all things local, including food, music and art. After all, the North Fork Valley isn’t only a great growing region, it’s a place where artists flourish as well, and there are a number of area art schools.
On Saturday there’s a smorgasbord of events planned. Don’t miss the Cirque Bike Farm Tours at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. We did a bike to farm tour with Cirque while we were in town earlier this summer (read all about it here). You can also do self-guided farm and winery tours while in town for the festival.
A festival farmers’ market will take place throughout the weekend and the Drink Locally event in Town Park happens Friday through Sunday. In addition, Mountain Harvest Festival has loads of live music schedule, farm-to-table dinners, yoga, bike Olympics and so much more.
Mountain Harvest Festival is a feast for the eyes, heart and stomach.
And here’s a warning: If this will be your first visit to the North Fork Valley, you may fall in love. Because what’s not to love about a region filled with vineyards, rolling hills dotted with sheep and trees heavy-laden with fruit? In a recent magazine article I dubbed the region “the land of milk and honey,” and that’s not an exaggeration.
If you’d like to experience this Delta County’s North Fork Valley to the fullest, you need to attend Mountain Harvest Festival in Paonia, Colorado.
Mountain Harvest Festival
winner of the Governor’s Award for Best Small Community Festival
September 22-25, 2016
Some events ticketed/Most events are free
Featured Festival spots on HeidiTown.com are paid advertisements. Interested in having your festival or event considered for a feature? Email TheMayor@HeidiTown.com.
It’s Monday, and that means this week’s segment from KRFC 88.9 FM is here!
By the way, September 14-22 is KRFC’s membership drive. This is a 100% community run radio station and it takes donations to keep the doors open. There are all sorts of membership levels to choose from so become a member today and help keep shows like HeidiTown on the air!
Now on to our regular scheduled blog post.
Last week I wrote about agritourism, and on this week’s radio show I share some upcoming agritourism-related events happening around Colorado including harvest festivals and a top-notch foodie event in Denver.
Agritourism is a relatively new word, and in fact it is so new that my computer does not actually recognize it as a real word. Agritourism is one of the fastest growing segments of the travel industry, but what is it?
It’s where agriculture and tourism intersect. If you’ve ever visited a working farm to buy eggs or tour their vegetable patch, or if you’ve taken your children to a corn maze or on a hay ride, you’ve participated in agritourism.
Agritourism covers a broad range of activities and includes educational, cultural and culinary events. It often involves hands-on experiences.
While most people consider Colorado a ski and adventure destination, our state was built on agriculture. Today, tourism is a big piece of the state’s economy, so bringing agriculture and tourism together just makes sense.
I’ll admit, I’ve only participated a little in agritourism, although the wine country on the Western Slope is at the top of my must-do list. Colorado’s Western Slope is a mecca for agritourism, especially as Colorado’s wine grows in popularity and reputation.
Events like Tour de Vineyard, happening this weekend, are the perfect opportunity to participate in agritourism. This 25-mile bike ride travels through Colorado’s Wine Country, and is held just prior to the Colorado Mountain Winefest, featuring over 50 state wineries.
The Western Slope isn’t only a wine lovers paradise, they also grow all sorts of fruit and celebrate their harvest all summer and fall with music, dancing and of course, lots of delicious food.
For instance, the Mountain Harvest Festival, held the last weekend in September in Paonia, gives visitors the opportunity to meet local farmers. The festival’s website includes a page with links to two local farm tours you can take while attending the festival; one is a self-guided tour, while the other is a farm to farm bicycle tour.
Staying at a dude ranch also falls in the agritourism travel category and you don’t have to go to Wyoming or Montana to find one. ColoradoRanch.com has 29 ranches listed, with activities that include cattle drives to white water rafting.
There are all types of ranch stays to choose from; you can indulge in a luxury stay, or an experience where your hands may blister and your boots will surely get dirty. Personally, I think the luxury stay sounds rather nice, although I wouldn’t mind feeding some chickens or gathering eggs in the morning.
In researching agritourism, I also found this cool website called FarmStayUS.com. It lists working farms throughout the United States where you can stay and experience rural living on either a farm, ranch or vineyard.
Another interesting way to participate right now in agritourism is visiting a “U Pick Farm.” According to Colorado.com, Berry Patch Farms in Brighton has a fall crops like apples, beets, carrots, garlic, onions, squash, pumpkins and peppers. You can even meet the farm’s chickens, ducks and pigs. See Colorado.com’s list of U Pick Farms here.
So there you have it, a quick overview of agritourism and how you can participate. I hope to have some agritourism adventures of my own next summer, and you can be sure that I will share them with you here on HeidiTown.
In seed time learn,
in harvest teach,
in winter enjoy.
~William Blake (1757-1827)
Fun awaits you and the entire family at this Saturday’s annual Harvest Festival at The Gardens on Spring Creek.