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Weld County

The Mayor Goes Shopping in Downtown Greeley, Colorado

I’ve been a longtime champion of Greeley. Over the years, it has suffered from a reputation that’s perpetuated by people who haven’t visited the town in more than a decade or who have never visited at all. Considering this, I think their new tagline, “Greeley Unexpected”, is rather apropos.

The Mayor Goes Shopping in Downtown Greeley. Einstein in mural. Courtesy of Visit Greeley

Image courtesy of Visit Greeley.

Earlier this month, Ryan and I spent the day shopping in downtown Greeley and discovered that, in addition to a good variety of restaurants and fun bars, the town offers an interesting array of boutiques appealing to everyone from clock fanatics to gamers.

We started our outing at Aunt Helen’s Coffee House. The shop is filled with quotes from Aunt Helen, who at the ripe old age of 105, has a lot of snarky wisdom to pass along such as, “It’s important to recognize your lack of talent early in life.” Continue reading

HeidiTown Gives Back Campaign: Denkai Animal Sanctuary

brother and sister puppies at Denkai

A brother & sister wait for forever homes at Denkai Animal Sanctuary. Photo from Denkai's Facebook page.

Each month I introduce my readers to a nonprofit of my choice and that organization receives free ad space on HeidiTown, plus Facebook posts and tweets about the nonprofit for the entire month.

November’s recipient of the HeidiTown Gives Back Campaign is Denkai Animal Sanctuary  with locations in Greeley and Grover, Colorado.

If you’ve been reading HeidiTown for any length of time, you know that I’m an animal-person. Years ago, I actually spent a little bit of time volunteering at Denkai – walking dogs and hanging out in the cat room. That’s how they first got on my radar, but more recently my People With Compassion for Pets giving circle donated to Denkai.

Denkai has a mission of providing a combination of service for animals, at-risk youth and raising environmental awareness. They are one of only a few no-kill shelters in Colorado, and they take in all sorts of animals including livestock.

Denkai logoSeveral years ago, I interviewed the founder of Denkai, Floss Blackburn, for a local newspaper, and her hard work, determination and dedication is truly remarkable. Everything she does is for the love of animals.

Running an organization like Denkai is no easy task. This animal sanctuary is always in need of volunteers, donations, foster families for animals and every day items like soap and hay.

Please take a moment and LIKE Denkai on Facebook:

Denkai on Facebook

And check out their website:

Denkai’s website

Friday’s Featured Festival: Greeley Oktoberfest

Volkstanzgruppe Dancers at Oktoberfest in Greeley, Colorado

The Volkstanzgruppe Dancers entertained the crowd and gave free lessons. Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer.

This is not the first time I’ve mentioned the Greeley Oktoberfest on HeidiTown, and long before they became an advertiser here, I thought this was one of the best Oktoberfest in Colorado. One of the reasons this fest is so successful is that the entire Greeley community is invested and comes out to the party.

This year’s fest runs Friday, September 28 through Saturday, the 29th.

Greeley Oktoberfest is a signature event in Northern Colorado, and there are lots of reasons why. Admission is free and families can come and stay all day without anyone getting bored.

There’s a full lineup of entertainment for all ages, including the always popular beer pong with giant balls and buckets. It’s a hoot and Ryan and I totally got addicted to it when we played.

This is a huge festival and it takes up nearly all of Lincoln Park in the heart of historic, downtown Greeley.

The event kicks off Friday evening, September 28, at 5:30 p.m. with the Tom Allan Grengs Polka Band. From 7:30 to 10 p.m. BeatGrass, a bluegrass band with a twist, takes the stage.

On Saturday, September 29, the festival gets underway at 11 a.m. with the Children’s Chorale, followed by the Mayor’s Proclamation at 11:45 a.m.

The rest of the day’s entertainment includes UNC Jazz, Vokstanzgruppe, Kyle Redman and Ronnie Ekhart and the Dutch Hop Makers.

Greeley Oktoberfest commemorative tasting glass 2012

The 2012 commemorative tasting glass.Photo from Greeley Oktoberfest on Facebook.

New this year, a VIP Beer Tasting Tent open on Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. Visitors to the tent receive a commemorative tasting glass, get to sample reserve beers and meet and greet professional brewers.  Tickets are $30, and can be purchased on the day of the event.

Lincoln Park provides the ideal setting for the event, and the best part of Greeley Oktoberfest is the ambiance. I write a lot about what makes a good festival and this Oktoberfest ticks all the boxes.

Head out to Greeley next weekend for a beer, a brat and a little polka – you won’t be disappointed.

To keep tabs on everything happening in downtown Greeley, go to www.GreeleyDowntown.com and be sure to join the Greeley Oktoberfest on Facebook.

All aboard the “Titanic” at the Union Colony Dinner Theater in Greeley, Colorado

Titanic LogoGreeley never ceases to surprise me. It’s an unassuming city, better known for beef than almost anything else, but then there’s the music. From the city’s inception, it has embraced music.

The last time I visited the Greeley History Museum, I learned that the city is home to one of the nation’s longest running orchestras. The University of Northern Colorado is also well-known for an outstanding School of Music, so perhaps it isn’t surprising that Greeley has a talented pool of musically inclined people to fill out the cast at Union Colony Dinner Theater.

This wasn’t my first evening outing in Greeley, but it was my first visit to UCDT, located upstairs in an historic building on 9th Street Plaza. The current show is “Titanic,” and I had never seen a stage production of this story.

Union Colony Dinner Theater is intimate and there’s no such thing as a bad seat. The cast uses the entire room, so don’t be surprised if someone starts singing right behind you during this show.

UCDT has a straightforward menu including a chicken Caesar salad, vegetarian pasta, shepherd’s pie and two upgrades of salmon and prime rib. You order your meal when you book your tickets.

We went with the salsa sampler appetizer, and were not disappointed – the mango salsa is a real winner. The chips are out of the bag, but the salsa makes up for it. The dinner salad came with a roll, and the lettuce was fresh and crisp.

I ordered a chardonnay, and my husband, Ryan, who has been obsessed with margaritas lately, ordered one on the rocks with Hornitos tequila. The UCDT bartender has some skills because Ryan raved about this margarita for the rest of the evening an into the next day.

I had preordered the salmon filet, and having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to salmon – thankfully it was cooked perfectly. I highly recommend upgrading to this delicious and savory dish.

Ryan raved more about his margarita than his shepherd’s pie, but the apple pie got high marks from both of us – Ryan liked the filling and I loved the light and crispy crust. UCDT also has very good coffee, always a plus at dinner theater.

The show opens with UCDT owner, Brandon Bill, on the piano, accompanied by violinist Alison Reifschneider. In fact, this duo provides all the music for this show, a real display of devotion by Bill to this production at his theater.

The cast waves goodbye in Titanic at UCDT

This is the largest cast for a production at Union Colony Dinner Theater. Courtesy photo.

The cast for this production of “Titanic” is the largest they’ve had at UCDT, and there are 36 bios in the playbill. The songs sung by the full cast sent shivers down my spine.

Nearly the entire script is sung, which takes a bit of time to get used to. All the musical numbers are accompanied by just the piano and violin, and with my own background in music, I believe this adds a layer of difficulty to being a part of the cast in this play.

There is little dancing in “Titanic,” but there is a bit of humor, despite the grave ending we’ve all known about since childhood. The character development is excellent, and by the time the ship goes down, I felt attached to several of the individuals on stage.

As I’ve mentioned in other dinner theater reviews, there’s also a scene stealer or two in every musical, and “Titanic” was no different. Kahlie Metz, plays Alice Beane, a middle-class passanger who is obsessed with the celebrities onboard the ship. Metz has good comedic timing and keeps the mood in the theater light with her comedic talents.

Owner of the Titanic saves himself.

The owner of the Titanic, Bruce Ismay, saves himself by boarding a life raft in front of women & children. Courtesy photo.

John Sonsa, who was also our waiter, plays the overbearing, power hungry owner of the Titanic. Thankfully he’s much nicer in real life than his character whose onstage outbursts startled the audience more than once.

I also enjoyed the performance by Mike Pearl, cast as ship steward, Henry Etches. Pearl has a consummate onstage presence that really shines.

At times, the musical abilities of the cast of “Titanic” stands out above the acting talent, but this is a solid musical that connects with the audience on multiple levels. I’m excited to see what is in store for UCDT with Brandon Bill at the helm.

“Titanic” plays through August 26, so book now before it sails away. Up next at Union Colony is “Once Upon a Mattress,” “5 Course Love,” “39 Steps,” and “Hello Dolly.” Learn more at www.ucdinnertheatre.com or call (970) 352-2900. You can also find UCDT on Facebook.

Get your kicks at the Greeley Stampede

Greeley Stampede Rodeo

Greeley Stampede Rodeo. Courtesy photo.

You don’t have to be a cowboy, or even own a pair of boots, in order to love the Greeley Stampede.

This week long event has been held in Greeley, Colorado for over 100 years. The Stampede is a family-friendly celebration of western culture and American independence.

While you can expect all the usual stuff at the Stampede, this year’s event has lots of new entertainment as well.

Read all the 2011 Greeley Stampede here.

The Mayor visits the Greeley History Museum

Greeley History Museum from the outside.

Greeley History Museum, located at 714 8th Street in Greeley, Colorado. (Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer, all rights reserved)

I had the opportunity to stop by the Greeley History Museum yesterday after an interesting meeting with the executive director of the Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra. The orchestra, like the rest of Greeley, has a rich history and the Greeley History Museum is the place to go for the full story.

Current exhibits include a comprehensive look at the 100-year Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra, and the history of Weld County’s many, many towns – some that no longer exists and others that are thriving. My favorite exhibit was Headwear & Hatpins, featuring original hats and photographs of the many strong women who have called Greeley home. Read all about my visit to the Greeley History Museum here.

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