More mac and cheese – please!
Aspen city employee Keith Bulicz was using his noodle when he hatched the plan for last weekend’s Aspen Mac & Cheese Festival.Over the years, Aspen has wracked its collective brain over new special events to draw people to town, but it turns out the simplest of foods (though some competitors went to great lengths to dress up macaroni and cheese) is all it takes to lure the masses.Bulicz, the city’s recreation supervisor, has already vowed the festival will be back. We’re happy to hear it. One could argue the festival crowd was made up largely of locals, but we doubt many of them would have been spending money in the bars lining Hopkins Avenue on a Saturday afternoon were it not for the festival. And some folks actually made a point of visiting Aspen to chow down mac and cheese. One individual sent the Times an email to let us know that a group of six adults and four kids drove up from Denver specifically for the occasion and “enjoyed every creamy minute of it.” They’ll be back next year, she promised. We encountered a couple from Summit County who drove over Independence Pass on motorcycles to enjoy the scenery and multiple samples of mac and cheese.Since the mac and cheese was free, all of the participating eateries (and one grocery store) deserve kudos for taking part. They swallowed the cost of the food and staffing the event for no better return than potential bragging rights and a trophy, designed by Bulicz, adorned with a curved piece of pipe suggestive of a noodle.Jason Adams, executive chef at the St. Regis, said he welcomed the chance to join the fun. Count the hotel in for next year, he said. Other competitors offered similar sentiments.We’d like to see both the Big Aspen Barbecue and the Mac & Cheese Festival on the town’s calendar next year. City officials need to resolve the conflict between the barbecue and the outdoor film festival at the Wheeler Opera House that led organizers to pull the plug on this year’s barbecue event after a promising first run last summer. There is room for all, and clearly, Aspen has an appetite for all of them.
As for the eagerly awaited second annual Aspen Mac & Cheese Festival, we urge organizers to either put beverages on the menu (one needs something to wash down all that mac and cheese) or, better yet, license the entire block of Hopkins for beverage consumption and let the adjacent watering holes supply the appropriate pairings for macaronis au fromage. That way, diners can wander about, drink in hand, at the festival.
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