Colorado food and drink festivals: 8 events that are worth your money this summer

The list of summer events in Colorado can be daunting. From concerts to baseball games and festivals upon festivals, you can have your pick. But where to start?

For our money, these eight food and drink events and festivals are emblematic, authentic and, most importantly, lots of fun. They represent the best of the best, and they cost as little as $5 or as much as $200 and above.

Bonus: They all take place in mountain towns or neighborhoods where we’d recommend spending a weekend. So, get the calendar out and call up some friends. These are the food and drink soirees that you can still make it to this summer and that are absolutely worth the spend.

Chile and Frijoles Festival (Pueblo) – $5

For the ultimate taste of Colorado, head to this late-September chile festival in historic downtown Pueblo. Fresh-roasted Pueblo chilies are undoubtedly the stars of the weekend. You can buy them along with other local produce directly from the farm stands. Stick around for the jalapeño-eating contest, the chihuahua parade and live cooking demonstrations.

Union Ave., Pueblo, Sept. 23-25, pueblochilefestival.com

Brewers Rendezvous (Salida) – $55

More than 60 Colorado breweries will be pouring at Salida’s Riverside Park during this one-day event, so drinkers can get a taste of some of their favorites and try some newcomers to the local scene as well. For the general admission fee, you’ll receive a commemorative glass, unlimited tastings and access to plenty of water and food trucks.

Riverside Park, Salida, July 9, tinyurl.com/b2c3avpc

Colorado Mountain Winefest (Palisade) – $75

Before settling into an afternoon of tastings, Winefest-goers can join the Tour de Vineyards, which offers a scenic bike route through Colorado’s wine country, and includes coffee at the start and brunch at the finish. Once the exercise portion is complete, head to Riverbend Park for unlimited wine samples, a commemorative glass and tote and access to local vendors and live music.

Riverbend Park, Palisade, Sept. 17, coloradowinefest.com

The Big Eat (Denver) – $85

More than 60 local restaurants serving up small plates and some 15 beverage brands pouring drinks make for the perfect summer evening. This annual fundraiser for EatDenver, a local restaurant nonprofit, features some of the best chefs in town, all under one “roof” at the airy Galleria in the Denver Performing Arts Complex.

1400 Curtis St., Denver, July 28, eatdenver.com/the-big-eat

Heritage Fire (Aspen/Snowmass) -$99

Whole-animal cooking is on display at Cochon555’s Heritage Fire national tour, which stops in Snowmass Village at the end of July. More than 20 Colorado chefs will be cooking meats over open flame and serving up heritage-breed beef, pork, lamb and more to festival attendees who can try unlimited bites alongside pours of beer, wine and cocktails.

Snowmass Village, July 30, heritagefiretour.com/snowmass

Creekside Dinner Series (Vail) – $150

Visiting chefs cooking up community dinners in a beautiful mountain setting: What more could you ask for? This summer, the Grand Hyatt Vail has invited three chefs from across the country to cook dinner for guests on its Gore Creek Terrace. Chefs Jaycee Couch (Washington D.C.), James London (Charleston, S.C.) and Orlando Benavidez (Denver) will be cooking alongside Hyatt chef Pierson Shields.

1300 Westhaven Dr., Vail, July 8 and 15 and Aug. 5, tinyurl.com/3uk3ydz9

Uchi Garden Series (Denver) – $200

This is one dinner to book for a special occasion over the summer. And you’ll have to book quickly, because it usually sells out. Visiting chefs from within Uchi’s Hai Hospitality family of restaurants showcase their skills at everything from Texas barbecue to Japanese nigiri throughout a 10-course menu that’s served mostly in small bites, with paired wines poured throughout.

2500 Lawrence St., Denver, dates TBD throughout summer, check Uchi’s Instagram or sign up for the restaurant’s newsletter to hear when tickets for each dinner are released.

Steamboat Food & Wine (Steamboat Springs) – $160-$1800

Start saving now for a ticket to one of a handful of events at this annual food and wine-filled weekend, which has many of Denver’s prominent chefs in attendance. You can take your pick from collaboration dinners, cooking seminars and wine lectures. For the most indulgent experience, the all-access pass gets you two dinners, a lunch and a “vinyl” brunch, plus the grand tasting event, all demonstrations and seminars, and an industry party where you can rub elbows with the winemakers and chefs.

Base of Steamboat Mountain and other locations around town, Sept. 29-Oct. 2, steamboatfoodandwine.com

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