Towns hope visitors will ‘fall’ for fall |

Towns hope visitors will ‘fall’ for fall

Naomi Havlen

Think that since the Labor Day weekend crowds are disappearing Aspen and Snowmass Village will soon be ghost towns?Think again, say local tourism officials.Together, Aspen and Snowmass Village are launching “Fall in love with Aspen/Snowmass,” a 10-day festival meant to draw people from Colorado’s Front Range to this area during the peak of the leaf-changing season.”We want to celebrate Aspen/Snowmass in the fall with the absolutely brilliant colors – it’s a great place to enjoy the season, like people on the East Coast do with the leaves changing in Vermont,” said Snowmass Village marketing director Susan Hamley.The fall festival is being plugged in the Denver Post under “favorite destinations” in an advertisement and advertorial. Hamley also said 30,000 post cards were recently sent to people who have visited Aspen and Snowmass Village before with the message that if they know the area for skiing, they should also know there’s no better place in the state to see the aspen leaves turn yellow.”Fall in Love with Aspen/Snowmass” is scheduled for Sept. 10-19 and includes an extensive list of activities for locals and visitors, including some annual events and some new activities cooked up just for the occasion.For example, Aspen resident Maggie Dorrough, who coordinates the cooking demonstrations and music for the Aspen Saturday Market, has arranged to have a chili cook-off Saturday, Sept. 11. Beginning at 10 a.m. in Connor Park, just off Hopkins Avenue, local chefs will take turns whipping up their most worthy chili concoctions. Participants include chefs from Little Annie’s and Olives, local caterers from Conundrum Catering and Back Door Catering, a couple of volunteer firefighters and some vendors from the Aspen Saturday Market. The chefs pay $10 to participate and all proceeds go to the Aspen affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Foundation Breast Cancer Foundation. Tastings for the general public are free.”We need to keep people coming to Aspen even after the leaves change, so hopefully we could do something like this every year after Labor Day as our last hurrah,” Dorrough said.Also on Saturday, Snowmass Village is hosting an Oktoberfest celebration on the mall featuring traditional music, German fare, beer and dancing, not to mention crafts, jugglers and balloons for kids.The following weekend is the 28th annual Snowmass Balloon Festival; Aspen Highlands Village will also hold its first Maroon Bells Festival of Color, with more than 30 artists showcasing their work on the plaza.Snowmass’ Fall Wine and Food Festival is also on the list of activities for Saturday, Sept. 18; the following day is Fall Family Fun Day at Snowmass, including fall-themed activities like apple bobbing.Throughout next week there is a lengthy list of complementary events, like jeep trips, hikes and rock climbing with Blazing Adventures or Aspen Expeditions, Aspen’s annual Ruggerfest, The Lovin’ Spoonful at the Wheeler Opera House, the Golden Leaf Half-Marathon and the Aspen/Snowmass Ride for the Cure For the Aspen Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. “It looks like a strong 10 days filled up with a lot of activities,” Hamley said. “And it’s really appropriate for Snowmass to partner with Aspen for these things, since neither of us are as strong on our own as we are together. Everyone has really stepped up to the plate.”Hamley said tourism officials will be tracking participation through codes on the post cards sent to potential visitors. Information about the festival was also available this weekend at a booth at the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day concerts.For a list of events from “Fall in love with Aspen/Snowmass” activities, visit or Havlen’s e-mail address is