Paul E. Anna: High Points | AspenTimes.com

Paul E. Anna: High Points

Paul E. Anna
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

If ever there was a day to head downvalley to Carbondale, this is it.

For starters, May has given us that sensational feel of summer a few weeks early, and the trip down the highway or the Rio Grande Trail is magnificent. Trees that normally bloom in June are bursting with vivid green, the big white cumulus clouds are hanging in the bluest of skies and even Mount Sopris has taken on the look of mid-summer, with just a tiny bit of snow on its highest peaks.

And since this is Friday, June 1, it’s also time for Carbondale’s First Friday celebration of the new season. For the uninitiated, Carbondale busts open on the first Friday of each month, welcoming locals and visitors to the Main Street core for an evening of food, music, arts and assorted revelry. It is a great time to just hang out in one of the state’s most eclectic communities, meet some artists, listen to some music and maybe even have a cold beer.

In fact this week there is an addition to the standard First Friday fare as Sopris Liquors and Wine presents the Bread and Brew Fest on Friday and Saturday at the PAC3 Performing Arts Center. Beer tastings, home brew seminars and beaucoup music will be available on both Friday and Saturday. A new community bread oven behind the PAC3 is getting plenty of attention in ‘Bonedale and it will be a focal point of the event, with both pizza and bread cooking demonstrations taking place. There will be reggae with “The Itals” on Friday, and on Saturday, David Bromberg plays the concert hall at 8 p,m. You can find out more at pac3carbondale.com.

It’s almost rodeo time downvalley as well, and the Carbondale Wild West Rodeo kicks off its season on Thursday, June 7. To get you in the mood, the rodeo will have a mechanical bull out for rides this Friday. And if you are inclined to wear your best western duds, a rodeo rep will be giving out free passes to the best-dressed cowboys and cowgirls on Friday between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. on Main Street.

But aside from all of the additions this week, the best part of the First Friday events is simply walking up one side of the street and down the other at a pace that may best be described as meandering. You might start up top at the Carbondale Clay Center – where the CLAY NATIONAL VIII 2012 “Sculptural Ceramics” exhibit opens – and stroll the north side of the street. Stop in and say hello to Andreas Fischbacher, of Highlands’ Cloud Nine Bistro, who has taken a space on Main next to Phat Thai for his new restaurant, Allegra.

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Be sure to take a turn down Fourth Street to stop in at Crystal River Meats and see the Jacober brothers’ grocery that is dedicated to local food products. Peek in at Steve’s Guitars to see who might be playing this week. Wander on to Third street to the Arts R2 gallery, where the Carbondale Council on the Arts and Humanities will unveil a series of sculptures titled “Feel Free to Touch 2.” Continue on down Main and grab a beer and a hot dog at the Carbondale Beer Works or a cocktail at Restaurant six89. It’s all good.

It’s still offseason, the pace of life is slow, and it’s a great Friday to get downvalley. After all, it’s the first Friday of summer.

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