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Labor Day 2013: 10 ways to celebrate summer’s end in Colorado

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Labor Day carries a lot of weight as the unofficial end of summer, considering the crush of festivals, picnics, concerts and parties that get piled onto the three-day weekend.

But figuring out which events you should attend doesn’t have to feel like work. Here’s our quick-hit guide to doing Labor Day 10 ways with a minimum of fatigue.

1. Get high at Mount Evans

The window of weather that allows motorists to drive 60 miles west to the top of Mount Evans’ 14,264-foot summit is quickly closing, so if you still haven’t experienced the highest paved road in North America, this weekend is your last chance (until next year). On the way, stop at Echo Lake or Summit Lake to hike, fish or marvel at the stunning mountain and alpine tundra ecosystems. $10 per vehicle. 303-567-3000 or fs.usda.gov.

2. Face the music in Aspen/Snowmass

JAS Aspen Snowmass invited some big names to its Labor Day installment, as it does every year, but 2013’s party might be its most pop-friendly yet. The multistage mountain fest, which runs Aug. 30-Sept. 1, will host Keith Urban, Jason Mraz, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Train, Journey and Denver’s own Paper Bird, among others. $89-$195. 970-920-4996 or jazzaspensnowmass.org.

3. Go Phishing in Commerce City

Most Phish shows sell out within minutes, especially at rarefied venues such as Red Rocks Amphitheatre. But as of press time, single tickets and three-day passes were still available for the Vermont jam band’s Aug. 30-Sept. 1 run at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Go camping or go with friends, but go to dance and sing because this will be one massive party. 6000 Victory Way, Commerce City, $49.75-$180. 303-727-3500 or tickethorse.com.

Hudson Henry, 7, right, of Colorado Springs,  Jaxon Miller, 18 months, of Pueblo, center, and Abriela Andrews, 2, of Colorado Springs meet a pair of piglets while visiting the FFA petting zoo in the Agricultural Pavilion on Sun., Aug 2, 2013 at the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo, Colo. Displays in the building feature Colorado agricultural products and business. ((AP Photo/The Pueblo Chieftain, Chris McLean)

Hudson Henry, 7, right, of Colorado Springs, Jaxon Miller, 18 months, of Pueblo, center, and Abriela Andrews, 2, of Colorado Springs meet a pair of piglets while visiting the FFA petting zoo in the Agricultural Pavilion on Sun., Aug 2, 2013 at the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo, Colo. Displays in the building feature Colorado agricultural products and business. ((AP Photo/The Pueblo Chieftain, Chris McLean)

4. Get a Fair shake in Pueblo

The Colorado State Fair & Rodeo, which kicked off on Aug. 23, still has more to give. The event runs through Sept. 2 at the state fairgrounds in Pueblo with concerts from Seether, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Firefall, dance performances, dog-stunt shows, carnival rides, kids’ activities, food, crafts and most important, a running celebration of Colorado’s agricultural and livestock heritage. $7-$10 general admission, varying prices for special events and concerts. 719-561-8484 or coloradostatefair.com.

5. Pick a side at Sports Authority Field at Mile High

Listen, we understand why the rivalry between CU and CSU can get a little … touchy. Especially when the alumni and students come together to watch their football teams square off at the annual Rocky Mountain Showdown, which dates back to 1893. But one thing they all agree on is that it’s a tradition worth continuing — even if ticket sales are low this summer. 4 p.m. Sept. 1. $25-$110. 800-653-8000 or ticketmaster.com.

6. Get soaked in Federal Heights

USA Today readers named Water World one of the top 10 water parks in America earlier this month, and it’s easy to see why: The 34-year-old park is an aquatic fantasy in our otherwise dry, landlocked state with nearly 50 attractions (including the Mile High Flyer’s “hydromagnetic” water coaster) on 60-plus acres. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Aug. 30-Sept. 2, weather permitting, 8801 Pecos St., Federal Heights. $35-$40. 203-427-7873 or waterworldcolorado.com.

7. See splendor of the Rockies

Starting Sept. 1, Crested Butte and Gunnison will take advantage of the fall foliage-spotting traffic to Kebler Pass and the Castle Mountains with events that show off their 1880s Western and Victorian towns, including the Fall Festival of Beers & Chili Cook-off, Vinotok Harvest Festival, gallery crawls, fun runs and more. Through Sept. 30 in downtown Crested Butte and Gunnison. 877-351-8724 or septembersplendor.com.

Darlene Taggart steadies a turkey leg for her granddaughter, Brianna Taggart, 3, while visiting A Taste of Colorado at Civic Center in Denver, CO, Saturday September 01, 2012. The annual Labor Day weekend event continues through Monday with over 50 restaurants and food establishments taking part in the festivities. Besides food, entertainment includes carnival rides and games, shopping and music.  Craig F. Walker, The Denver Post

Darlene Taggart steadies a turkey leg for her granddaughter, Brianna Taggart, 3, while visiting A Taste of Colorado at Civic Center in Denver, CO, Saturday September 01, 2012. The annual Labor Day weekend event continues through Monday with over 50 restaurants and food establishments taking part in the festivities. Besides food, entertainment includes carnival rides and games, shopping and music. Craig F. Walker, The Denver Post

8. Get A Taste of Colorado

Launching its 30th event, A Taste of Colorado has been around longer than many of its attendees. The four-day food festival in Civic Center will offer bites and crafts from dozens of restaurants and vendors, culinary demonstrations, kids’ activities and music from local and national acts, including Aaron Neville, Dennis DeYoung (of Styx), America and MC Hammer. Yes, that MC Hammer. Aug. 30-Sept. 2. Civic Center park downtown. Free general admission. 303-295-6330 or atasteofcolorado.com.

9. Hear the rumble in Loveland

While it can’t compete with the hundreds of thousands who throng the big motorcycle rally in Sturgis, S.D., Loveland’s Thunder in the Rockies is still expected to draw about 45,000 with its bike shows, stunts, tattoo contests, rock concerts and organized group rides. Aug. 30-Sept. 2 at Thunder Mountain Harley-Davidson’s grounds, 4250 Byrd Drive, Loveland. Most events free, $10-$30 for concerts. 970-292-0400 or thunderintherockies.com.

10. Leave skis at home, for now

With or without their blankets of snow, Colorado’s cozy ski resorts are set up well for foot-traffic festivals and concerts — and there are many this weekend. Copper Mountain’s free Copper Country returns with music from Kenny Rogers and Michael McDonald plus a fine-arts exhibition and lots of kids’ activities. The 19th annual Vail Jazz Party features dozens of performers, while nearby Beaver Creek’s Oktoberfest gets an early start on the oom-pah-pah music and stein-hoisting. All events Aug. 30-Sept. 2, various times and locations. villageatcopper.com/copperCountry; vailjazz.org and beavercreek.com.

-John Wenzel

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Comments
  • comment avatar Holly August 30, 2013

    Weather is going to be hot, hot. We love to do St. Mary’s Glacier and then go to Taste of Colorado.

  • comment avatar Jamison August 30, 2013

    weird that school is in mid-aug and then we get another holiday. but no complaints. probably low-key grilling with friends but good suggestions.

  • comment avatar Tammy September 1, 2013

    Only one thing: the Longs Peak Scottish Irish Highland Festival in Estes Park. Always the weekend after Labor Day

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