Billings, MT, Sept. 4-6. Can you dance for three days and nights? Youíre in luck if you like to polka, because the Big Sky Polka Festival keeps you three-steppiní high with, yes, beer, and German food and several fine polka bands, including Julie Lee and Her White Rose Band, Matt and the Dakota Dutchmen, the Polka Rhythm Kings and the Bob Bares Band. Think of it as Slovenian slam dancing. Bring the RV, the kids and grannies … itís got to be an experience you wonít soon forget. And everyone can polka! More info at bigskypolkaclub.com or call 406-656-7470.
A wee bit of green
Estes Park, CO, Sept/ 9-12. Ready to go Celtic? Longs Peak Scottish/Irish Highlands Festival in Estes Park has it all from music to marching, jousting competitions, dogs of the British Isles, highland dance, folk music, bagpipes and a bowling-ball shoot (not sure if theyíre shooting the bowling balls or rolling them … ). And certainly a lot of kilts (donít ask what they wear underneath those tartans … ) all at the beautiful Stanley Park Fairgrounds. Thereís a great lineup of music, including Mythica, Alex Beaton, Brigadoons, Rathkeltair, Albannach, Prickly Pair and Loch Carron, to name a few. Check it out online at scotfest.com or call 800-903-7837.
Jackson, WY, Sept. 9-19. Art in the fall has just as many colors as the changing foliage, and the 26th annual Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival has thousands of art enthusiasts enjoying the diverse artwork and spectacular natural surroundings. World-class installments of contemporary, culinary, landscape, Native American, wildlife and Western, arts, combined with an exceptional array of music, cowboy poetry and cuisine. More than 50 events round out the 11-day festival, which you can check out online at jacksonholechamber.com/fall_arts_festival/
Brews for youz
Denver, CO, Sept. 10-19. Honestly, there can never be enough beer fests, can there? The Mile High City jumps onboard with their Denver Beer Fest, and 10 glorious days of tasting, pub crawls, meet the brewers, brewery tours and entertainment ó all told, more than 100-beer related events. Theyíve also book-ended two major beer-themed festivals, the Great American Beer Festival and Oktoberfest (OK, so itís Ocktober Fest in September … ), September 17-19 and 24-26. Brilliant! Get the scoop and the draw online at denver.org/denverbeerfest and oktoberfestdenver.com
What the Hay?
Hobson, MT, Sept. 12. What started as a friendly competition in 1990 between ranching neighbors has turned into full-blown sculpture artistry all constructed from hay bales. Last year, at the 20th-anniversary edition, there were over 50 innovative entries. Although local farmers and ranchers construct the majority of the creations, there have been entrants from all parts of Montana, as well as California, Arizona and as far away as New York. The sculptures are displayed in fields along the Bale Trail, a 21-mile loop just south of U.S. Highway 87, running along state highways 239 and 541 with the eastern end being in Hobson, the western end at Windham, and Utica being the halfway point. So, fire up the olí pick-em-up truck and either drive the trail or git yerself some bales and make yer own. For general and contest info, call Val at 406-423-5803 or see sculptures and info online montanabaletrail.com or Facebook Montana-Bale-Trail-What-the-Hay.
Burn the Grump
Crested Butte, CO, Sept. 13-18. In a week-long frenzy of Slavic-Italio-harvest-pagan rituals, the costume capital of Colorado once again hosts Vinotok, this year a week earlier than usual, and itís bound to be even more wild since itís the 25th anniversary. Twenty-four lads and lassies, the Greenman, the Knight, Dragon, Magistrate, Earth Mother, flag bearers, fire twirlers, drummers and of course the Grump all enable mumming, drinking, frolicking, town potluck, Liarís Night, storytelling and Saturdayís Vinotok passion play and procession, where the Grump is given a fair trial but always hauled down the main street to burn, convicted, at a huge bonfire. Join in and wear your Renaissance threads if so desired. More info, entertaining photos and videos on Facebook ìVinotokî.
Got Dem Blues
Telluride, CO, Sept. 17-19. The 17th Annual Telluride Blues & Brews Festival runs rampant this year with George Thorogood & the Destroyers, special guests Elvin Bishop and Eddie Shaw, BB King, Otis Taylor with Chuck Shaw and so many more gracing the stage in one of the most breathtaking settings in the Rockies. Back is the 3rd Annual Coolest Campsite Challenge, artful campsite designs not just for amusement but will earn you some serious schwag this year should you top the competition. Itís three days of riotous fun whether you drop in for a day or the duration. Online at tellurideblues.com
Run for fun
Boulder CO, Sept. 19. The Boulder Marathon promises to be one of the best and most-entertaining races in the Rockies. Itís open to all walkers and runners and, hey, you have an entire seven hours to get through the course ó so, if youíre not a pro, semi, serious runner, you can just stroll through the day chatting with your buddies. It all starts at 7:30 a.m. at the City of Boulder Reservoir, where it also finishes (that would be at 2:30 p.m.). And itís fully supported, with ample aid stations and toilets. Get yerself online bouldermarathon.com.