September unleashes barrage of autumn events | AspenTimes.com

September unleashes barrage of autumn events

Aspen Times writer

Art festivals, rugby, wine, jazz, half-marathons and balloons. What more do you need this weekend in the Roaring Fork Valley?A little peace and quiet, you say? Fuhgedaboudit, locals. September is here in force this weekend with the changing of the leaves getting under way and a plethora of events that you won’t be able to beat, so you might as well join.Today is Aspen Highlands Village’s second Maroon Bells Festival of Color. From noon to 4 p.m. you can wander through the ski area’s plaza and watch art in the making. Woodcarvings, performance art, mosaics, stained glass, metal work, paintings, sculptures and much more will be created before your eyes while a bluegrass band performs live all afternoon. The village’s restaurants will feature samples of their daily fare, and plenty of artwork will be for sale.The sound of bones crunching and burly men grunting may lure sports fans over to Ruggerfest, the 38th annual competition that brings teams of tough guys and gals to Aspen from all over the world to play in Rio Grande and Wagner parks this weekend. The championships are Sunday – for more information, visit http://www.aspenrugby.com.Endurance athletes will be speeding through the woods this weekend – today the Ute Mountaineer Golden Leaf Mountain Bike Race weaves bike riders on the Government Trail from Snowmass to Aspen starting at 9:30 a.m. On Sunday, runners take off for the Ute Mountaineer Golden Leaf Half-Marathon at 8:30 a.m., a race once chosen by Trail Runner magazine as one of “America’s 14 most scenic races.” For more info or to register, visit http://www.active.com.And of course, it’s hard to miss the hot air balloons flocking to Snowmass Village this weekend for the 30th annual Snowmass Balloon Festival. Be at the town’s softball fields at 8 a.m. today for the Dawn Quixote launch and breakfast, and the pilots stay tethered to the ground but fire up their balloons for effect tonight at 7:30 p.m. “Target Tubing” on Sunday begins at 8 a.m., with a champagne brunch and awards ceremony at 10 a.m. on the Snowmass Village Mall.Finally, consider enjoying the changing of the leaves with a glass of fermented grape juice at the Snowmass Wine and Jazz Festival, a fund-raiser for the Rotary Club of Snowmass Village from 1 to 5 p.m. today on the Snowmass Village Mall. About 50 wineries will be there, as will plenty of live jazz.Choices, choices.