Labor Day weekend offers Taste of Colorado, football, mountains

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With a long weekend ahead, lucky metro area residents have multiple entertainment options (assuming weather gods cooperate) that include food, art, football, mountains and Taste of Colorado/Festival of Mountain and Plain.

We’ll focus on that festival, which started many years ago as a way to entice folks to come to downtown Denver, and was restarted more recently for the same reason. It’s now known as Taste of Colorado. Admission for four days of activities, food and music is free. Tickets for food and carnival rides are sold.

The fest boasts five music stages, 50 restaurants and food trucks, a marketplace with about 280 vendors, a kids’ area, Culinary Showcase, a Festival of Mountain and Plain area that teaches about state history, nature and environment, and traditional arts and crafts. Included: Navajo weaving, spinning, rug braiding, lace crocheting, felting, quilting and blacksmithing. The Raptor Foundation will also bring live birds to the area and teach about conservation.

The five stages are: Main, Rock and Roll, Country, Colorado Heritage Stage and Kidz Stage.

Three Highlands Ranch-based bands will perform:

• Tunisia will play at 8:15 p.m. Aug. 31 on the Rock and Roll Stage. It’s a 10-piece group with three lead singers, three horns and a five-piece rhythm section that plays classic rock, R&B, contemporary hits, Motown and hip-hop.

• The four-member Five 13 band is scheduled at 3:45 p.m. Sept. 2 on the Rock stage, with originals and covers influenced by the great arena bands of the past plus today’s favorites.

• After Midnight, which brings the Benny Goodman songbook and other music from that era, will perform on the Colorado Heritage Stage at 10:45 a.m. Aug. 31.

The KidZone and Kidz Stage will have kid-friendly food vendors nearby, plus an ongoing program of clowns, magicians, musicians and more, including a baby station with rockers, changing tables and diapers.

To welcome the festival’s start, fireworks will blast off at about 9 p.m. Aug. 30 after the Dennis DeYoung: Music of Styx performance on the Main Stage.

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