Follow a late-summer rainbow to the end of its spectrum and see if you spot some gold … leaves. As mornings get crisper and the season’s colors start to change, we know that autumn is on its way, but there are plenty of days left before the foliage falls.
So pack an extra layer or two, and head out to some of these gilded gatherings, featuring everything from antique cars and music festivals to dining walks and open-air markets.
There are two Oktoberfests left, a new location for the manliest event of them all, an annual river cleanup and a fly-fishing competition, and even a health and well-being summit to top off the summer.
Raise an autumn toast
Say “cheers” to a fest dedicated to indulging your love for beer and bratwurst … actually, say “prost!”
Vail Oktoberfest returns for two weekends of authentic entertainment and Bavarian beer, adult keg bowling, oom-pah music, bratwurst eating and stein-lifting contests, among other activities. The town’s first fest is held today through Sunday in Lionshead, and then in Vail Village the following weekend, Sept. 12-14. The events are free and open to the public, and food and drinks are available for purchase.
Kids and families may also fill their cups with the Oktoberfest Fun Run, which benefits the Children’s Garden of Learning, on Sept. 14. The event features a 5K and kids’ 1K. Find out more at www.vailoktoberfest.com.
Rev your engines
There’s no time like summer to feel the wind in your hair, and the Vail Valley hosts several events to get your gears going.
The Vail Automotive Classic, an auto, aircraft and motorcycle show, is back for a fifth year, taking place today and Sunday.
“We’ve always got some new and different things,” said Doug Landin, founder of the event and chairman of the Vail Automotive Classic board of directors. “But for the featured marque — we actually have two this year — went with Porsche and the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang.”
Landin said the event offers a lot of dynamic elements, which brings in a unique showing of both American and European automotives, along with aircraft displays. Events are held at the Wheels & Wings Show and auto auction taking place today at the Vail Valley Jet Center in Eagle, and then in Vail Village on Sunday for the car show.
“We are shooting for 200 cars this year — everything from antiques to super cars — and I’m hoping we’ll get up to 100 motorcycles,” Landin said. “It’s a time when automotive and air enthusiasts come to spend a weekend in Vail.”
See www.vailautoshow.com for more information.
And the car events don’t stop there. The Colorado Grand Car Rally is an annual event held during September, this year held Monday through Sept. 13. The rally starts and ends in Vail and then travels 1,000 miles around the state, into areas that include Grand Junction, Durango, Crested Butte, Colorado Springs, Steamboat, Telluride and more. There is an entrance fee for drivers, and many also donate auction items to help support the Grand charities. For more information, visit www.co1000.com.
From Sept. 12-14, the German Auto Festival rolls into Beaver Creek. All the major German car brands and their affiliated North American car club members will be convening in the mountains to take scenic driving tours, and then the rides will come on display for a competitive car show on Sept. 13. Check out www.beavercreek.com.events-and- activities/german-auto-festival.
Eat for the harvest
All of Colorado’s season’s are beautiful, but late-summer into fall is the most abundant for foodies. Valley farmers markets offer local produce, food and art vendors, so go fill your basket while you still can. The final Minturn Market takes place Saturday; the final Edwards Farmers Market is Sept. 13; the Vail Farmers’ Market & Art Show runs every Sunday through Oct. 5. Find info on times and vendors at www.minturn market.org, www.edwardsfarmers market.com and www.vailfarmers market.com.
Taste your way up Beaver Creek Mountain on Sept. 21. Shaw Regional Cancer Center’s annual Hike, Wine & Dine event brings hikers up a four-mile trail, where they stop along the way to try gourmet offerings prepared by local chefs. Proceeds from the event benefit Jack’s Place, a cancer caring house, and Shaw Regional Cancer Center. Tickets for the events are $100 for adults, $50 for teens ages 13 to 18 and free for children 12 and younger. See www.shawcancercenter.com/shaw-events-outreach/hike-wine-dine.
Rounding out the month, the second annual Vail Beaver Creek Restaurant Week is Sept. 26 - Oct. 5. Participating restaurants across the valley will feature a wide variety of prix fix menus and specials, all for $20.14.
Sarah Franke, director of marketing and communications for Group970 Restaurants, said this year’s event will stand out due to the vast number and variety of restaurants participating.
“It truly highlights the expansive culinary options we have here in Vail and Beaver Creek — in cuisine type and restaurant atmosphere — and gives local and visiting guests an opportunity to sample specialty items from across them all,” she said. See www.diningataltitude.com.
Alongside the week of eats is the Top Shelf Harvest event in Lionshead Village, which takes place on Sept. 27. It’s an event featuring 15 Colorado-based distilleries paired with Vail restaurant tastings — www.topshelf harvestvail.com. Also, indulge your taste buds that weekend during the Lionshead Wine, Spirit and Chocolate Fest, held Sept. 26 and 27.
Have a healthy
The Vail Living Well Summit is back the second weekend of September. The three-day health and well-being summit is now titled Vail Living Well Forum for Optimum Health, offering an invite-only, collaborative experience for local and international researchers and influencers.
Every year in September, the Eagle River Watershed Council brings together over 350 volunteers from local businesses, organizations, families and friends to clean up over 68 miles for Eagle County rivers and streams.
On Sept. 13, the event starts with a morning of hard work, then volunteers and their families can celebrate with a barbecue featuring food, live music and a raffle. See www.erwc.org.
Get out and play
Summer’s river season starts to come to a close in Vail with The America Cup, from Tuesday through Sept. 14. Competition venues include Dillon Reservoir, Sylvan Lake State Park, the Colorado River Ranch, the Eagle River from Edwards to Wolcott and the Blue River from the Dillon Reservoir dam downstream to Kremmling. See www.theamericacup.com.
Beaver Creek’s Rendezvous Music Festival is Sept. 19-20, featuring headliners like Dawes, Jason Isbell and Patty Griffin. Find out more at www.rendezvousbc.com.
Man of the Cliff is holding its sixth annual nonprofit event Sept. 27 and 28, but this year it’s in a different location. The new, lakeside venue (at Nottingham Park in Avon) offers the chance for more space, more efficient competitions and, in years to come, even could mean some lake events.
“Nottingham Park is going to be a much bigger venue,” said Adam Williams, co-founder of Man of the Cliff with his wife, Amanda. “We are going to have more activities going on simultaneously, so we can certainly accommodate more competitors this year. And we are going to make it more efficient, so people can show up for an hour and a half and knock out their activities, one after the other, instead of waiting for new ones to start.”
The competition comprises outdoor, rugged activities that are modified to fit all strength and ability levels. All of the funds raised benefit local charity First Descents. Williams said the new location gives Man of the Cliff room to grow, helping to make it more profitable for the charity.
“We are spending a little more time, money and effort on the signage and presentation of the event, so it will be a little more polished than years past, but it will still have the same rugged feel that we have had in Red Cliff,” he said.
Head out to the scene to participate or spectate, and be sure to try a Wood Splitter Pilsner, made especially for the Man of the Cliff from Bonfire Brewery, a presenting sponsor. Sign up at www.manofthecliff.com.
Ready to jump into autumn? October is just around the corner, so get fall rolling with a visit to the Eagle Ranch Pumpkin Patch on Sept. 27.
So don’t go into hibernation until the fun is over — it’s not offseason just yet.