Colorado Weekend – Twenty To Do

July 15 – 17, 2011

***Kidspree – July 16 & 17, Aurora. Colorado’s largest outdoor festival just for kids. Entertainers plus more than 50 hands-on activities at the 16th annual Kidspree held at Bicentennial Park. Admission and activities are FREE.

***Open Arts Fest – July 16 & 17, Boulder. Visual art showcase for local artists and those from around the country, and demonstrations. Held on the Pearl Street Mall.

***Breckenridge Beer Festival – July 16, Breckenridge. Rain or shine celebrate brews and views  accompanied by live music.

***Cheyenne Wells Tumbleweed Festival – July 16 & 17, Cheyenne Wells. Softball, horseshoe and golf tournaments, games, car show, and rocky mountain oyster fry.

***Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo Days – July 12 – 16, Colorado Springs. The 71st annual PPoBR kicks off with a parade through downtown on Tuesday. Rodeos begin on Wednesday evening. Family-friendly pre-rodeo events – gold panning trick roper demos, pony rides and mechanical bull rides. Nightly live music at the Coors Roadhouse Saloon after the rodeo.

Blue Columbine

***Crested Butte Wild Flower Festival July 11 – 17, Crested Butte. Enjoy a rich variety of wildflowers and butterflies while hiking, birding, biking or 4×4 touring. Classes include art, gardening all levels of photograph, medicinal with botanical ingredients, cooking with wild flowers and yoga.

***Colorado Black Arts Festival July 15 – 17, Denver. The 25th annual celebration of visual, literary and performing black arts and culture. All events are free and open to the public – film, drum and drill team exhibitions, Boogaloo parade, marketplace, entertainment – at Denver City Park West.

***Molly’s Birthday Jubilee – July 17, Denver. Celebrate the 144th birthday of the “Unsinkable Molly Brown” at the Molly Brown House Museum. Enjoy a Victorian afternoon with lawn games, kids’ activities, birthday cake and free Blue Bell ice cream.

***Orthodox Food Festival and Old Globeville Days – July 16 & 17, Denver. Sample foods from Russia, Romania, Serbia, Ukraine, Eritrea, Greece and Mexico at the 8th annual festival in Argo Park. Includes music, dance, arts, tours of historical landmark Orthodox church.

***Estes Park Rooftop Rodeo – July 12 – 17, Estes Park. 85th annual PRCA rodeo includes saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, bare-back and bull riding and barrel racing. Western parade, Behind the Chutes Tours, kids complete in mutton bustin’ and calf catch.

***Fort Collins Jazz Experience – Fort Collins, July 12 – 16. Downtown Sessions Free Festival Day – July 16th with 13 live jazz groups on two stages. Jam sessions, numerous venues, crawfish boil – and more.

***Buffalo BBQ Weekend – July 16 & 17, Grand Lake. Celebrate Grand Lake’s cowboy and pioneering heritage with pancake breakfast, 5k fun run, parade, barn dance and, of course, farm raised buffalo BBQ.

***Cattlemen Days – Through July 17, Gunnison. Ten days of events wrap-up with a parade, rodeo, cowboy church and Family Night Rodeo.

***Longmont Jazz Festival – July 16 & 17, Longmont. The best jazz bands of Northern Colorado, including the Queen City Jazz Band, entertain for a free weekend of music at Roosevelt Park. Refreshment by Smoke Shack BBQ.

***Pagosa Springs Renaissance and Pirate Festival July 15 – 17, Pagosa Springs. Events include archery, belly dancing, sword making, mysticism and activities for the wee ones. Feast on turkey legs and ale.

***Colorado Lavender Festival – July 15 – 17, Palisade. Lavender gardens, farm tours, wine reception, lavender lunch, seminars, aromatherapy, lavender wands and wreaths craft projects, kid activities, music.

***Logger Days Festival – July 16 & 17, South Fork. Men and women competitions in logging skills – axe throw, wood chop, choker race, cross cut, accuracy fall for example. Also music, wood carving, children’s games, arts & crafts and food at this family friendly weekend.

***High Country Kitchen and Garden Tour – July 16, Steamboat Springs. Event benefits the Strings Music Festival, tour 5 kitchens and 6 high altitude gardens, 9:30am-3:30pm.

***Telluride Yoga Festival – July 14 – 17 Telluride. For all levels – yoga from beginners to advanced students, workshops, meditations and yoga dance presentation.

***Sol Shine Music Festival – July 16 & 17, Winter Park. Free festival presenting national, regional and local musicians, food & beer garden. Events in Hideaway Park on Saturday and Cooper Creek Square on Sunday.

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Giraffe Encounters

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Feeding Giraffe 2 - B 

A long black tongue gracefully curls towards the offered cracker. In the blink of an eye the crisp goody disappears down an elongated neck. Almost as a thank you ears give a tiny twitch before she turns to look for the next treat.Giraffe Tongue - Red Shirt - B

We’re engaged with the nearly two dozen reticulated giraffes in the African Rift Valley Exhibit of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Elevated decking allows intrigued visitors to stand at nose-to-nose level with the gentle herd – the largest of any zoo. We learn the receptive tongues measure 18-21 inches with the inside portion pink in color and the visible last six inches a deep purplish-black. Who can resist purchasing the special nutrition-formulated giraffe crackers?

Although additional animal encounters await, like many visitors, we find it difficult to move away from our favorite exhibit. Even after we’re out of crackers we enjoy watching others interact with the giraffes. While the adults nonchalantly move around the large outdoor enclosure two five-month-old male calves dart here, there and everywhere. Barely avoiding a belly flop, Mashaba skids to a halt with legs widely splayed. We’re able to identify the giraffes by name from exhibit information describing each unique reticulated (netlike) paLicking Lips - Bttern.

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo giraffe herd can be found outside during zoo hours on dry days with local temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Visitors enjoy watching the long-necked creatures pass through their specially designed drawbridge at 9:15am and afternoon – 4pm in winter, 5pm in summer.

Recalling Figure Skating History

World Figure Skating Museum & Hall of Fame

 

As the 2010 Winter Olympics unfold across television screens, millions of viewers get swept into the beauty and drama of figure skating competition. Memories glide back to skaters of fame and infamy. Truly, I’m not old enough to remember skating sweetheart Sonja Henie, Olympic champion in 1928, 1932 and 1936. However, I easily recall Carol Heiss competing in the 1956 Olympics and earninExterior Sign[1]g the gold medal in 1960 at Squaw Valley. Since then, with each Winter Olympics, I’ve eagerly anticipated each stroke, sit spin and Salchow.

The World Figure Skating Museum and Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs takes visitors through an interesting history of skates and development of the sport as well as great skating moments. It’s the only museum in the world dedicated exclusively to the history of figure skHamilton Jumpating.

From my earliest attempts I was always skating challenged – spending more time on my ankle bones than on the blades. I could barely make it around the rink let alone execute jumps and spins. In preparation for 2010 Olympic viewing I gravitate towards the museum’s graphic displays detailing the differences of a toe loop, Axel and Lutz jump.

I’m always intrigued by the display of historic skates from cultures around the world. In the eighth century, shank bones were strapped to footwear for transportation across the ice. Indeed, the English word “skate” is derived from the old German word schake, meaning shank or leg bone. Skates from the 18th century show a variety of cast iron blades with elaborately curved prows. I’m still trying to imagine skating on the circa 1900 Japanese skate with a wooden platform and cloth toe thong. When I spot a pair of child’s circular blade “ice walkers” I know that’s where I should have started.

Bones

Japanese Thong Skate

 

 

 

 

 

 Skate in Cube

 

 

 

 

Circular Blade

The museum’s art collection demonstrates skating’s popularity as a subject for artists through the centuries – Delft china to an Andy Warhol painting of Dorothy Hamill. Bronze sculptures capture the flowing lines and grace we associate with the sport. A finely-detailed silver figurine commemorates the only known military battle fought on ice skates, the Battle of Ij in 1572. Accounts say that Dutch troops crossed a frozen river on skates to surprise their Spanish adversaries. The Spanish captain promptly order several thousand pairs of skates for his soldiers. The legend is that the Spaniards lacked both the will and the skill for skating success.

Competition fuels modern battles on the ice. Don’t we all remember Tonya Harding’s scheme to literally “knock” Nancy Kerrigan out of the 1994 Olympics? One piece of skating history not memorialized at the museum. Last week we were subjected to a day of whining after Evgeni Plushenko placed second in Vancouver. Even Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin weighed in with his opinion.

Olympic Pins - B

Figure skating was the first winter sport contested in the modern Olympics – 1908 in London. Olympic memorabilia abounds recalling positive highlights – posters, costumes, pins, videos, stories from the athletes and even Scott Hamilton’s 1984 Gold Medal.

28 Poster 52 Poster 68 Poster

When You Go: The World Figure Skating Museum & Hall of Fame is tucked away in the Broadmoor neighborhood at 20 First Street, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Hours are 9am-4pm Monday – Friday and 10am-4pm on Saturdays, May through October.

World Figure Skating Museum and Hall of Fame
World Figure Skating Museum and Hall of Fame

Marvelous Marionettes

Simpich Sign

As the stage lights dim and applause erupts I sit in absolute awe at the performance I’ve just witnessed. I believe puppeteer David Simpich is truly a creative genius. His masterful interaction with a cast of marionettes amazes whether he’s relating the Christmas story or a Russian fairy tale.

For nearly an hour and a half I’ve been mesmerized by a seamless one-man show. Simpich, and only Simpich, is on stage with more than a dozen marionettes, speaking for each in a distinctive voice, he’s the sound effects, lighting technician, props man and stage manager. Not only that, he’s also the playwright, puppet creator, costumer and stage designer. Amazing!

Simpich skillfully brings the marionettes to life; his large hands deftly execute the slight tilt of a head or turn of a tiny hand. Although we can see his mouth moving it’s the character speaking. These minute nuances make us soon forget we’re seeing puppets controlled with a multitude of strings. The audience is completely drawn into the magic of the story and presentation.

Simpich Showcase Exterior After years of traveling and producing shows around the country Simpich, along with wife, children and family of hundreds of handcrafted puppets has a permanent home in Old Colorado City, Colorado Springs. Simpich remodeled the former home of his parent’s Simpich Dolls company, opening the Simpich Showcase Museum, Theatre and Gallery in May 2009.

The handmade character dolls created by Jan and Bob Simpich are beloved by collectors around the world. For 54 years the workshop hummed with up to 100 workers intricately detailing each creation. Jan and Bob closed their business in 2007. The Simpich Doll Museum showcases the creative process as well as dioramas of many characters from the family collection. The Gallery on Strings displays dozens of David Simpich’s marionettes, allowing close inspection of the finely detailed puppets.

An exhibition of Bob Simpich’s  original oil paintings are currently highlighted in the Gallery. Originals and prints are available for purchase as well as works by Jan Simpich and selected artists from the Colorado Springs area.

The 70 seat theatre is a rare facility dedicated to string-puppet productions. The size and design allow for a intimate audience experience.

The Firebird, an original retelling of classic fairy tales from Russia opened January 27, 2010. The show continues through March 21st with performances each Friday evening and matinees on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays (no show Sunday, February 7th). Simpich shows are crafted for an adult and school-age audience. The length and content make them unsuitable for pre-school children. These are not cutsy kiddie shows but thought provoking, quality theatre drama productions.

Four other shows are planned for 2010.

  • Portraits: A Gallery on Strings – – March 31 – May 16
  • The Secret Garden – – May 26 – September 6
  • Aesop – – September 22 – November 7
  • A Christmas Carol  – – November 17 – December 31

Tickets are available for individual performances or in season ticket packages for all five at a discounted rate. Shows frequently sell out – especially the Christmas Carol – reservations are strongly advised and can be made at the Simpich website. Theatre tickets include admission to the museum. The Gallery and Museum are open daily except Monday.

After seeing a You Tube video about Portraits we’re planning our next visit. Attend a Simpich show and be entertained, amazed and inspired. Let me know your reaction.

Simpich Faces