OURAY – Nothing epitomizes summertime more then chilling in a park, perhaps sipping on an ice-cold brew and throwing some tasty treats on the grill after a day of thrilling activities that only mountain living can offer.
If any of the above activities suit your fancy, then come on down to the Ouray Chamber of Commerce’s first annual Grillin’, Chillin’ and Thrillin’ Music and Brew Fest on Saturday, Aug. 23 at the Ouray Hot Springs Pool Park from noon to 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
This homegrown festival is the brainchild of a few motivated Ouray citizens and the Chamber of Commerce. It was organized to raise funds for the purchase of a 20-foot by 40-foot festival tent that will be used for public programs and festival development.
The event will feature local bands such as Fall Baby, known for their jamming rock style, and Greg Eagle’s bluegrass and folk flavor.
A number of Western Slope breweries are donating beer for the event such as Ourayle House, SKA Brewing, Revolution Brewing, Silverton Brewing, and Palisade Brewing. However, imbibing in the goods will not be free, and for good reason. There will be a $15 charge to drink at the festival, with all proceeds going toward the purchase of the festival tent. The Ouray Masons will offer their tasty barbecue at the festival, with all proceeds donated to the lodge.
To add an extra element of excitement to the revelry, Ouray’s San Juan Mountain Guides will be stringing a zip-line across the park. They will set up the 380-foot metal cable from a sturdy tree above the barbecue pit, and the line will run downhill toward the other side of the park by the highway. Accredited mountain guides will be offering free rides on the zip-line throughout the day. There is no height limit to ride, so everyone from 5-years-old on up can climb-on, clip-in and zip over the heads of festivarians at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour.
“This is a festival for everyone,” said Jennifer Loshaw, director of the Ouray Chamber Resort Association. “It’s going to be casual, laid back and a chance for people to take it easy before the storm of Labor Day weekend and back-to-school rolls in.”
The Grillin’, Chillin’ and Thrillin’ Music and Brew Fest will be preceded by two other local events on Saturday. At 7:30 a.m., the Mt. Sneffels Half Marathon Run and Walk gets underway. The 13.1-mile course begins in the parking lot of the Ouray Hot Springs Pool. There is a $30 entry fee and race day registration opens at 6:30 a.m. The event is a benefit for the Mt. Sneffels Education Fund.
Once marathon racers have left the start line, the Ouray Highgraders Holiday will ramp up activities for an event that celebrates mining heritage. Once the mining merriment calms down at noon, locals and visitors alike are welcome to roll in with their blankets, picnic baskets, camp chairs, Frisbees, and dogs (on leashes of course) for an afternoon of good, clean community fun.
“It’s been a lot of fun planning this event,” said Loshaw, who is part of the festival committee. Also on the committee are John Draper, who is in charge of bringing in the beer, Rob Megna, who is coordinating the music, and Christopher Dunham, who is working with the Masons to help provide the best barbecue in town. Karen and Ritch Avery, owners of the Box Canyon Lodge, chair the committee. The Averys attended Ridgway’s Love Your Valley Festival earlier this year and wanted to bring something similar to Ouray.
“We are trying to gain support from the community,” said Loshaw. “We want to throw more festivals in the future, and we need a good tent to do that.” Loshaw has aspirations to bring in musicians like Michael Franti and Laura Love. She also has dreams of organizing the region’s first wine and chocolate festival. “This festival is a start for building a reputation to be able to do all that,” said Loshaw.