Aspen hosts two weekend events
ASPEN – The city of Aspen is coordinating two weekend events that will revolve around free food – and plenty of it.The first-ever Aspen Mac & Cheese Festival will take place between noon and 5 p.m. Saturday in the 300 block of East Hopkins Avenue, what some locals call “restaurant row.” Fifteen local restaurants and other food purveyors had signed up to participate in the event as of Thursday afternoon. They will serve their various concoctions of macaroni noodles and cheese in samples to the crowd from 2-4 p.m.The idea is a competition similar to the winter Soupskl. The public can weigh in on which eatery has the best dish by voting with raffle tickets provided at a festival booth. A custom-built trophy will go to the winner shortly after 4 p.m.Keith Bulicz, a city parks and recreation supervisor, is coordinating the new event, which has a budget of up to $1,500 in city money. Restaurants will be spending between $400 and $600 on food costs and personnel to staff their booths. Bulicz said that in addition to the 15 purveyors, he’s lined up four sponsors and has received special assistance from Of Grape and Grain, a wine shop and liquor store. He’s also got some volunteers lined up to assist with the production.Participating restaurants are: Cache Cache, Jimmy’s, Brunelleschi’s, Ute City Bar & Grill, the Red Onion, Rustique, Steak House 316, Boogie’s, Elevation, Division, the Hunter Bar, Finbarr’s Irish Pub, Smoke and the culinary operations of the St. Regis Aspen Resort and Clark’s Market. Pitkin County Steakhouse had been confirmed for the event; its status is unclear given that the restaurant closed for good on Wednesday after a lease termination. Bulicz said he had not heard from the owner about whether he plans to be involved with the festival.The style of the event will be similar to a block party since the street will be closed off. However, open containers of alcoholic beverages won’t be allowed. A DJ and bands will play starting around noon, possibly through the duration of the festival. Bulicz encouraged guests to hang out in the street or in nearby restaurants and retail shops before the macaroni-and-cheese dishes are served. The city will provide “sporks,” but those who want to bring their own spoon or fork may do so as a way of reducing environmental waste.He added that he would like to make the event an annual occurrence.From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, there will be a family-friendly community picnic at Aspen Golf Club just west of town. The city has held the picnic at the end of the summer tourism season annually for nearly a decade, according to Kristin Drake, marketing coordinator in the city’s special events department.”We’ll have the picnic, rain or shine,” she said.The city is encouraging attendees not to drive since the golf course parking lot will be closed. A shuttle will be available for those who want to park at Aspen Middle School. The shuttle will leave the school every 30 minutes, at the top of the hour and the half hour, starting at 10:30 a.m. It will leave the golf course to take picnickers back to the school at 15 minutes past and before the hour. The Burlingame/Highway 82 bus also stops near the golf course at the Truscott stop. The city also is urging attendees to walk or ride bicycles.Drake said Red Mountain Grill, the city’s eatery at the golf course, will provide a free barbecue-style lunch for the first 750 people. The event also will feature golf lessons, a lawnmowing competition (with nonmotorized push mowers), the sounds of DJ Dylan, miniature golf, bocce ball, a bounce house, Frisbee, soccer, football, kickball, kite flying, kickball, croquet, tennis and games for kids.Also, the Aspen Police Department will staff an outreach booth at the picnic to provide information on rules for bicycling around town.The golf course will be closed Sunday.firstname.lastname@example.org
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