Aspen Untucked: Summertime is on the mind
If we want to get technical about it, the start of summer is Thursday, June 21. But anyone who lives in the valley likely starts feeling the wonderful qualities of the warmer months right about now. The snow is thawing, the river is filling up, the days are nice and long, and the barbecue parties are in full swing. Excitement can be felt all around as we progress into one of Aspen’s best seasons.
Growing up in Boulder, I always considered the start to summer to be Memorial Day weekend. During the three-day stint, the Boulder Creek Festival takes over downtown with live music, lots of dancing, interesting kinds of food, art and lots of vendor booths. And, on Memorial Day, the internationally-known race the Bolder Boulder closes most of the main streets in town as more than 54,000 participants walk and run the 10 kilometers, or 6.2 miles, to the University of Colorado’s stadium. The whole weekend of events makes for a big party in Boulder, one that I often enjoy participating in. This past weekend was no exception. I headed down there with a group of good Aspen friends to welcome in summer.
Although there isn’t a huge festival or race in Aspen or Snowmass over Memorial Day weekend, there are many happenings that prompt the beginning of summer. Independence Pass opened the Thursday before the holiday weekend to hundreds of eager adventurers looking to engage in snow or water sports up Highway 82. Even though snow is still melting at the top of Ajax, Aspen Skiing Co. officially opened the gondola for the weekends. Starting June 16, it will open for daily operation. In Snowmass, the gondola starts June 22. After a fabulous Memorial Day weekend, I can’t help but think about all of the wonderful things in store for summer. While just about every happening from late May to early October is pretty damn great, I do have a few favorites that are worth mentioning.
Heritage Fire by Cochon555 returns to Base Village in Snowmass for another year June 16. This mouthwatering event features 3,500 pounds of meat prepared by more than 50 chefs and butchers, as well as farmers, sommeliers, distillers, brewers and bartenders. It’s not the ideal event for a vegetarian or vegan, but if you love meat prepared in different ways, there’s no better place to be over Food & Wine weekend.
An ongoing summer event that is always a good time is the Snowmass Free Concert Series. Starting June 9 and going until Aug. 16, these concerts take place on Fanny Hill on Thursdays, as well as two Saturdays. There’s a good range of music this year from Americana rock and jazz to country and electric folk. Plus, the event is free so everyone who wants can come along for the ride.
One of the things I love most about summer in the valley is the abundance of local, fresh food that we have access to. I’m always a fan of signing up for a community-supported agriculture program through a farm. Another great option is checking out all of the local farmers markets. Up-valley there’s the Aspen Saturday Market, which runs June 16 to Oct. 6. Midvalley offers the Basalt Sunday Market, held adjacent to Lions Park on Midland Spur Road from June 17 to Sept. 30. On Wednesdays, the Carbondale Farmers’ Market takes place downtown starting June 13 and finishing Sept. 26. And there’s the Glenwood Springs Saturday Farmers Market at the Rite Aid Pharmacy parking lot across from the high school that goes from late June to November, as well as Glenwood Springs Downtown Market, held on Tuesdays from June 5 to Sept. 11 in between Grand and Cooper avenues on Ninth Street. If you like local produce, one of these markets is sure to fit your wants and needs.
These happenings are just a tiny sampling of all of the fun to come in the next several months, so get out there and have some fun! I know I will.
Barbara Platts is a sucker for summer. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BarbaraPlatts.
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April has been decreed, for the first time, as “Sonoma County Wine Month” by the vintners and it is a righteous idea, one that should have legs long into the future.