For decades, I have headed to Colorado’s Rocky Mountains to escape the summer heat. The cooler mountain air is an enjoyable respite. While the majority of Rocky Mountain visitors come in the wintertime for skiing and snowboarding, I’m thrilled to have the luxury of indulging in unlimited hiking and biking adventures during the spring, summer, and fall months. Decades ago, adventure seekers and convention goers were the primary audience. Nowadays, countless Colorado mountain festivals entice crowds to the resorts during the summer months.
This past weekend, Keystone Resort hosted its 17th annual Bluegrass and Beer Festival. In past years, we occasionally strolled through, but rarely took time to stop. This time around, we spent several hours walking around and sitting. We enjoyed tasting some of the food and listening to the music. Not being lovers of beer, we could not rationalize the $40 charge to taste beers from 29 beer vendors during a four hour time period. We were in the minority.
Despite a forecast of rain, the sun shined brightly until the end of the day. Thousands of people filled the River Run thoroughfares. Participants carried glass souvenir shot glasses that could be repeatedly filled. Lines formed immediately in front of the popular breweries. Occasionally, we heard the clinking sound associated with glass hitting the pavement. Expletives soon followed.
We wandered about with our companions who were eager to taste as many beers as possible. Some were quickly discarded for their strong or unusual taste. Chocolate, chili peppers, and countless other ingredients usually not associated with beer were included in some of the brews.
I was content to try a fresh tuna fish taco prepared by Dos Locos. The taco was warmed on an adjacent grill and piled high with sushi grade tuna, lettuce, cabbage, shredded cheddar cheese, and seasoned sour cream. It was just the right size and delicious.
Bluegrass musicians were performing in multiple locations. While enjoying the beauty of the resort and the clean mountain air, we listened. We read in the Summit Daily News about Sierra Hull, an accomplished mandolin player. She recorded her first album when she was 15 years old. The International Bluegrass Music Association has nominated her for 5 awards over a 3-year period. Our timing was great because we walked near the stagee just as she was being introduced. It was a delight to listen as we appreciated life in the mountains.
As we wandered about, we came upon the stall for the Keystone Ranch. After decades of enjoying their bountiful gourmet meals we were curious what they would be selling. It certainly was not what we were expecting. Guinness Beer and Ancho Chili ice cream topped with sugar coated pumpkin seeds. We took a second look. Then, we asked for more details. I’m not sure if this dessert will ever be offered at the Ranch. We didn’t know what to expect. We shared a bowl amongst the four of us. While lines did not form at this vendor, it certainly was a unique treat that was worth tasting.
If you’re planning a trip to the mountains, check out the wide assortment of festivals. If you enjoy beer and Bluegrass music, look into booking a trip to Keystone next August.
The memoir was a finalist in the Travel category for the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, the 2013 International Book Awards, and the 2013 National Indie Book Excellence Awards.