Aspen Mac & Cheese won’t be held this year
After seven years running, the Aspen Mac & Cheese Festival will not occur this weekend, organizers confirmed.
The popular event, which involved a dozen or more restaurants competing for the title of the best mac and cheese, was typically held the second weekend of September on a closed-off street in downtown Aspen.
Last year, Home Team BBQ, Cache Cache and Meat & Cheese restaurants came away with awards.
The event was founded in 2011 by former city of Aspen recreation supervisor Keith Bulicz.
It was a city-run festival that started out as free and open to the public. Last year, it moved to a $5 admission price so cash prizes could be given away to participating restaurants. But it still attracted thousands of people.
Susan Arenella, who works in the city’s recreation department, said organizers decided to take a yearlong hiatus to rethink the event.
“It’s going to be bigger and better, and in association with other things,” she said, adding the festival could be held in a park in the future and will have added activities surrounding it with sponsors.
She said construction on the Castle Creek Bridge and around town this month also were factors in taking a break.
Arenella said it didn’t have anything to do with the fact that Bulicz no longer works for the city.
Nancy Lesley, who runs the city’s special events and marketing department, said organizers have not reached out to her yet for a new-and-improved mac and cheese festival, but she’s willing to help when they do.
“They were very thoughtful about making the decision,” she said. “I do applaud Susan and the recreation department for wanting to change it up and recapture the excitement of this event.
“I think there’s a blank slate.”
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“Because of the pandemic, I mean, it’s like, people are even more excited, — they’re like, ‘alright, give me five boxes instead of two,’” said Heather Merritt Gentry, the troop leader for Aspen Girl Scout Brownie Troop 15014.