Seeing and photographing colorful and beautiful hot air balloons rise either over the San Juan River or the Pagosa Lakes in the early morning hours is a thrill people never tire of.
The balloons return this year with some old favorites and some new colorful envelopes.
The morning and evening hours now have a little crispness in the air, indicating fall is on its way and the way Pagosa rings in the season is ColorFest.
The weekend will be filled with activities for participants of all ages. The season of festivals is not over yet, and ColorFest certainly celebrates the stomping of the grapes and the rolling out of some fantastic chile and fall fest microbrews.
Here is the schedule of events as we know them as of press time. For further information, and tickets, call the Chamber of Commerce at 264-2360.
Thursday, Sept. 8
New additions to this year’s ColorFest activities are wine dinners hosted by two of Pagosa’s fine restaurants.
Alley House Grille will be featuring and pairing wines from Sutcliffe Winery located in the Cortez area. Winery owner John Sutcliffe will be on hand to give an amusing narration concerning his wines and his winery philosophy as you partake of a sumptuous three-course dinner. Lobster medallions will start off the dinner. A New York Strip with some amazing accoutrements will take center stage and a dark chocolate bread pudding with Godiva chocolate creme anglaise will complete the evening. Reservations can be made for this limited seating dinner by calling the Alley House at 264-0999.
On the west side of town, Nello’s Bistro will host the other wine dinner. A four-course meal will feature Olathe-based winery Garrett Estate Winery. Mitch Garrett will be on hand to discuss their family’s beginnings in the wine business. Please call Nello’s for reservations at 731-9899.
Friday, Sept. 9
The Passport to Pagosa Wine and Food Festival returns with hot-topic wines and killer food from some of Pagosa’s noted restaurants.
We will be featuring some delightful Pinot Noirs from the Oregon region known for this type of wine. We will be comparing some Aveleda white wines including the Vinho Verde region of Portugal. Argentina and Chile are still producing some very tasty wines at amazing prices and are two popular countries that we will showcase this year.
A full array of foods will also be present at this festival, from a burger slider bar to crab cakes and everything in between, including some yummy vegetarian dishes. . This is one of Pagosa’s premier events highlighting our wonderful culinary community while pairng foods with delicious wines and Pagosa Brewing beer.
We will also add a new feature to the festival by having Breckenridge Distillery on board, serving tastings of their award-winning bourbon and vodka. The restaurants will be competing in the “Best Of” category and there will be the “Peoples’ Choice” award. Tickets for this over-21 event are $40 in advance and include the food and the beverages along with your collectable glass and plate.
Saturday, Sept. 10
Start the morning off in the downtown area with the hot air balloon mass ascension. The pilots will gather under the big tent in Town Park at 7 a.m. If you are interested in crewing, please show up at that time to see if any of the pilots need assistance. You must be familiar with Pagosa streets and back roads in order to get to the balloons. Watch the pilots as they compete in accuracy contests and fill the Pagosa skies with beautiful color.
Beginning at noon, bring the children out to enjoy being on stage with Kidde Karaoke. This is a first for this weekend. Promoting a family day, we encourage parents to let the kids sing their hearts out and have some fun. There will be prizes for all and hundreds of songs to choose from, with DJ Dude.
Then, beginning at 2 p.m., the popular Bands, Brews, etc. portion of the day begins. Over 14 breweries from northern New Mexico and Southwest Colorado will be in attendance showing off their most popular beers or new brews. Breckenridge Distillery will also be back with their special spirits. Wine will be available. There will be five musical groups in attendance, vying for a cash prize. This year, the music ranges from country and western to salsa. Tickets for the event are $5 admission and $15 for the tastings, which includes your collectable tasting glass. The event will continue until about 7 p.m. when, weather permitting, we will have a hot air balloon glow. Come out and watch these beautiful silhouettes glow in the Town Park area.
The Colorado Springs Corvette Club will be back this year with their gorgeous sports cars. They will gather on Lewis Street and the Bell tower area at around 9 a.m. On your way to Town Park, don’t miss these collectable vehicular treasures.
Sunday, Sept. 11
The balloonists move to the west side of town where the pilots meet at the Pagosa Lodge at 7 a.m. Launch will take place around the Pagosa Lakes area after the briefing. Again, if you are interested in crewing, arrive at the Pagosa Lodge at 7 a.m.
We want to thank our hot air balloon pilots for returning to Pagosa, or coming here for the first time to attend our ColorFest festival. You enhance our weekend and we thank you for participating in this 26th year of the Reach for the Peaks hot air balloon rally. Please remember that all hot air balloon activities are subject to weather.
The Passport to Pagosa and Bands, Brews events will take place under the “big top” rain or shine.