Happening at the end of this month, Fruita’s Mike the Headless Chicken Festival is but one odd celebration held every year here in Colorful Colorado. Add these to your calendar:
1. Packer Days — lakecity.com/calendar-of-events/packer-days
Lake City is one of the state’s scenic, hidden gems. If you’ve never been, or if you’ve never heard the story of the state’s most famous cannibal, then plan a trip for Memorial Day weekend.
That Saturday will mark the annual Mystery Meat Cook-off. $5 gets you a taste and guess of every dish. The Run for Your Life 5k is a backcountry survival test honoring the victims of Alferd Packer, who haunts these San Juan Mountains after his bloody exploits in 1874.
2. Madam Lou Bunch Day — Facebook event page
Happening one day and one day only, come one and come all to the 45th remembrance of this fair lady. OK, so “fair” isn’t a popular description for a brothel owner. She might have been notorious during Central City’s gold rush, but beloved Madam Bunch is today. She’s known for keeping her shop open longer than anyone else in town.
The main event? The race of elaborately decorated beds on wheels, pushed by teams of two men and one woman.
3. Lavender Festival — coloradolavender.org
When you think Palisade, you think peaches. You’ll think lavender if you visit this last weekend of June. Tour the wavy, fragrant fields of purple as part of this grand showcase, which also includes workshops and seminars. The area’s wineries also figure prominently, along with artisan goods.
4. Telluride Mushroom Festival — tellurideinstitute.org/telluride-mushroom-festival/
Expand your fungal knowledge in this postcard mountain town. Once again, myco-luminaries from around the country will share the magic ways of shrooms, from their place in nature to the pan in your kitchen. Take a cooking class or foray in the hills. Or simply spectate as vibrant characters take to the streets before the famous feast.
5. Longs Peak Scottish-Irish Highland Festival — scotfest.com
Kilts, bagpipes, jousting knights, dancing girls, racing terriers, strong men lifting stones and others throwing hammers. Expect all of that and more at a spectacle unlike anything in Colorado. For three decades, Estes Park has played host to the sights, sounds and tastes of Celtic culture.
6. Vinotok — travelcrestedbutte.com
This is a proudly local affair, but that hasn’t stopped Crested Butte’s official visitor source from posting details at travelcrestedbutte.com. Be on the lookout. And be prepared to blend in with a quirky costume of your own as residents eat, drink, sing, dance and tell stories as they ring in the autumnal equinox this Sept. 23.
The harvest culminates in the Trial of the Grump, a monstrous edifice set aflame with everyone’s past woes and worries.
7. Ullr Fest — gobreck.com/event/ullr-fest/
The Norse god Ullr is worshiped every January in Breckenridge with a great parade. Don your Viking helmet and take your place at the annual attempt to break the longest shot ski record. Also featuring a polar plunge and massive bonfire.
8. Frozen Dead Guy Days — frozendeadguydays.org
It was best described by The New York Times not long ago: “the gleefully ghoulish late-winter bacchanal of ice and death and beer.” And it might have come to an end this past March. After 18 years, the festival’s owner has dropped out with no heir apparent.
But with this space we’re offering a toast. Here’s to you, Nederland, and all of your weirdness, including the frozen Norwegian man preserved in one of your sheds.