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Mercury Rising at Colorados Mt. Crested Butte Chili & Beer Festival

Mt. Crested Butte Chili & Beer Festival Photo by Trent Bona

As temperatures cool off and fall foliage reveals a kaleidoscope of red, yellow and crimson in Colorados Gunnison-Crested Butte Valley, things are heating up in an action-packed weekend of autumn fun on Sept. 19 21, featuring the Mt. Crested Butte Chili & Beer Festival and much more.

The annual Mt. Crested Butte Chili & Beer Festival, held on Sept. 20 at the base of Crested Butte Mountain Resort ski area, involves sampling of mouth-watering chili prepared by area cook-off contestants and tasty microbrews poured by Breckenridge Brewery, Oskar Blues Brewery, Bristol Brewing Company, Eddyline Brewing, Kannah Creek Brewing Company, Lagunitas Brewing Company, Ourayle House Brewery, Palisade Brewing Company, Wolfe Brewing, Telluride Brewing, Mountain Toad Brewing and more. Each brewery brings three varieties to taste.

Chili is judged in categories such as Best International Chili Society Red Chili, Anything Goes, Green Chili, Vegetarian Chili, Best Professional Entry, Peoples Choice and Best Table Decoration. Attendees also can savor live music by Mine Control, Jaden Carlson and Paa Kow all afternoon.

Doors open at 11:30 a.m., beer starts being poured at noon and goes until 4 p.m., and chili is served from noon until 2:00 p.m. or until it runs out. Tickets are $25 for early-bird purchases and $30 at the door. All $25 early-bird ticket purchases are entered into a drawing to win free beer for a year from Twisted Pine Brewing. Those who want to enjoy only the chili and music can purchase tickets for $15. For all the details go to www.cbbeerfest.com.

Mt. Crested Butte Chili & Beer Festival Photo by Trent Bona

Other Colorful Fall Happenings

Festival-goers can get a workout before indulging in beer and chili by taking part in the Camp 4 Coffee Cart to Cart Trail Run organized by Crested Butte Mountain Runners. Starting at 8 a.m., the 19-mile course includes several trails that connect Crested Butte to Crested Butte South as Camp 4 Coffee has locations in both places. Half marathon participants start on Brush Creek Road and follow the 19-mile course to the finish. The entry fee is $20 for non-members and $15 for members.

Its a two-for-one festival weekend as Saturday evening is the culmination of Crested Buttes 29th annual Vinotok, which runs from Sept. 14 20. A cast of medieval characters featuring maidens representing the 12 months of the year, accompanied by torchbearers and flag bearers, start singing and dancing in the streets and restaurants starting at 5 p.m. As night falls, a street theatre production is held on Elk Avenue starting in front of The Eldo at 7:30 p.m. and concludes with a procession to the large parking lot behind the visitor center for the burning of the Grump (a 20-foot-tall figure stuffed with townspeoples written-down grumps) and a bonfire.

A community feast is always held the night before, with this years dinner of roast pig and seasonal vegetables presented by Mountain Oven on Elk Avenue and First Street. A handfasting ceremony, live music, poetry and short story readings, and wreath making are part of the fun starting at 5:30 p.m. Costs and more detailed information about Vinotok happenings are posted on the events Facebook page or call (970) 349-0947.

New to the fall scene is ARTumn Fall Festival on Crested Buttes Elk Avenue on Sept. 20 21, from 10 a.m. 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. 5 p.m. on Sunday. Art lovers also can participate in Gunnison Arts Centers Discover Your Muse Art Workshop led by artist and educator Cheri Isgreen to create a handmade journal and found-art sculpture from 1 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The cost is $65 and includes all supplies.

Both towns also have vibrant weekend markets held downtown, with Gunnison Farmers Market happening on Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. 1:30 p.m. and Crested Butte Farmers Market on Sundays from 10 a.m. 2 p.m.

This is a great opportunity for folks to come to town and have a really fun weekend seeing several different sides of our unique valley, says Shaun Matusewicz, who organizes the Mt. Crested Butte Chili & Beer Festival for the Crested Butte-Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce. The mountain biking and hiking also are absolutely amazing right now. The aspens are changing, the trails are in great shape, and there are no crowds! Chili and beer, trail running and Vinotok on Saturday and mountain biking or hiking on Sunday, I cant think of better combinations in the fall.

Vacation Packages & Visitor Information

To save on flights, hotel rooms, vacation packages, car rentals and more, go to www.VisitGCB.com. For travel planning and general information, call (800) 814-8893, go to www.VisitGCB.com, www.GCBevents.com or www.GCBlodging.com or follow GCBTA event promotions on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gcbta.