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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Independence Day Americana – 4 Days of Fun in Gunnison-Crested Butte, Colorado

 Fourth of July events extend into four days of Americana this summer in Gunnison-Crested Butte, Colorado. There is spectacular red-white-and blue fun on July 4, including a firehouse pancake breakfast, one-third marathon (run, walk or crawl!), parade, old-fashioned games, concerts and fireworks.  The long weekend is a bonus for families, couples and travelers of all ages who love food, art, music and Western heritage.
Fourth of July
Independence Day starts with a glorious, early morning launch of hot air balloons at Jorgensen Park from 5:30 – 6 a.m. The 33rd annual Hot Air Balloon Rally, hosted by The Trough Restaurant, features an array of colorful balloons that launch each morning from July 4 – 6. 
Later in the day on July 4, the 62nd annual Gunnison Fourth of July Fireworks Celebration kicks off at Jorgensen Park at 4 p.m. with a beer garden, food court and kids activities such as face painting, a bouncy house and Slip ‘N Slides all organized by the City of Gunnison.  Gertrude’s Hearse is the featured band from 6 – 9 p.m., with an opening band to be announced in the near future.  Washington-based Gertrude’s Hearse has been shaking up honky-rock folkgrass since 2005, when founding “undertakers” Stephen Starr (bass) and Raymond John (guitar) teamed up with Yusuf Kilgore, Matt Clausen, Keith Stone and lineup of other talented players to produce their unique brand of Americana.
Military veterans will be honored just before the fireworks fly at 9:15 p.m.  The fireworks are presented by the Gunnison Rotary Club.  Contact the City of Gunnison at (970) 901-6215 for more information about Fourth of July festivities.
Crested Butte & Mt. Crested Butte
To the north, Crested Butte & Mt. Crested Butte pulls out all the stops to celebrate Independence Day.  Forget making breakfast and attend the Crested Butte Fire & EMS Department’s Pancake Breakfast from 7 – 10 a.m. at the fire station downtown.  A food court offering an abundance of tasty treats opens at 10 a.m., plus there are numerous restaurants and coffee shops to satisfy a wide range of tastes. Several kids’ activities, including face painting also start at 10 a.m.
Or look more to your athletic side at the 45th annual Gothic to Crested Butte Run, Walk or Crawl 1/3 Marathon beginning at 8 a.m. in Gothic, winding through the aspen woods and meadows to Mt. Crested Butte and ending in downtown Crested Butte.  Proceeds benefit the nonprofit Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL), a private, nonprofit scientific research and education institution based in Gothic.  Online registration is available at www.active.com or go to www.rmbl.org for a registration form and information. There is a cap of 500 participants.
Expect funky, fun and good-natured laughter as locals and visitors assemble along Crested Butte’s Elk Avenue to take in the spectacle of the July 4th Parade at 11 a.m.  Scientists, staff and friends of RMBL have built a reputation for wearing outrageous costumes created from skunk cabbage leaves and KBUT radio’s float discos its way through the parade route.  If getting wet isn’t your idea of fun, stay away from the first block of Elk Avenue because after the parade it turns into the wet zone for a big water fight complete with a fire truck. 
Stick around immediately after the parade for live music by Dr. Robert, a local Beatles tribute band, followed by old-fashioned games for all ages (e.g., hot dog eating contest and pie eating contest) from 1:30 – 3 p.m. at Third Street and Elk Avenue. 
Next is a free patriotic concert at Crested Butte Center for the Art’s outdoor stage at 4 p.m. featuring one of the world’s best brass ensembles, Boston Brass. The group will be joined by baritone Ron Earl of Gunnison and participants in the Crested Butte Music Festival’s Marcello Giordani Young Artist Program.  The concert is part of the Crested Butte Music Festival (www.crestedbuttemusicfestival.com), which runs from June 30 – Aug. 11.
The day ends in style on the Red Lady Stage with a free outdoor concert by Amber Leigh at the base area of Crested Butte Mountain Resort beginning at 6 p.m. followed by fireworks at dusk.

For more information, contact the Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce at (800) 814-8893. The Chamber will be offering a 50/50 raffle with one lucky winner, with tickets available at the Chamber or the food court.
The Celebration Continues – July 5 – 7
The holiday weekend is filled with art, music, star viewings, culinary events and the kickoff for the 113th annual Cattlemen’s Days in Gunnison.
Fridays @ 5, a free summer concert series held weekly at 5 p.m. in the Gunnison Arts Center courtyard, happens in tandem with First Fridays Art Walk & Music on July 5. Enjoy locally created art and music at galleries, artist studios, Gunnison Arts Center, coffee shops and restaurants from 5 – 8 p.m.  For participating businesses and more information, call Gunnison Gallery at (970) 641-6111.  For Fridays @ 5, visit www.gunnisonartscenter.org.
Cool mountain evenings are perfect for stargazing at Gunnison Valley Observatory.  Beginning at 8 p.m. on July 5, Ali Barnes, interpretative ranger at nearby Curecanti National Recreation Area, will discuss the awe-inspiring finds of the Hubble Telescope since it was launched by NASA in 1990. Then view the night sky on one of Colorado’s largest public telescopes and several smaller telescopes.
On July 6, there will be an “Asteroids, Meteors, Comets Oh My!” program led by Western State Colorado University Astronomer Dr. Suzanne Taylor to review the nature of asteroids, meteors and comets, where they come from and how they affect the Earth and other planets.  Kids will have an opportunity to participate in forming impact craters, and everyone will have the chance to see actual meteorites from outer space.  Donations are requested to help fund the volunteer-operated observatory.  For information, go to www.gunnisonvalleyobservatory.com.
On Saturday, foodies will love the Gunnison Farmers’ Market held in downtown Gunnison from 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. and the new Taste of Gunnison Valley featuring several area restaurants, samplings from Oscar Blues Brewery and Colorado wineries and live music by local bands from noon to 4 p.m. at Jorgensen Park.  It’s also the kickoff of the iconic 113th annual Cattlemen’s Days, July 6 – 14, with a dinner and dance for all ages at Fred R. Field Western Heritage Center that begins at 6 p.m.  Throughout the week there are rodeos, the county fair, a parade and much more.  To find out more, call (800) 814-8893 and visit www.cattlemensdays.com.
Bluegrass is rooted in America, and some of the best in the industry will be in Crested Butte for the fourth annual Bluegrass In Paradise presented by Crested Butte Music Festival on July 6 – 7.  The Saturday lineup includes MilkDrive, The Gibson Brothers, Barnstar!, Nashville Bluegrass Band and Sam Bush. Sunday features Bonnie and The Clydes, Head for the Hills, Mountain Heart, Larry Keel & Natural Bridge and The Paradise All-Star Band with Drew Emmitt, Sam Bush and more.  Also, Denver-based Swallow Hill Music School will lead a Bluegrass Kids Camp on July 1 – 5 and free adult workshops for all levels on July 7.  Free tent camping is available for concert-goers.  For tickets and more information, visit www.bluegrassinparadise.org.
Downtown comes alive on Sunday mornings for the Crested Butte Farmers’ Market on Elk Avenue from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., featuring produce, breads, canned goods and breakfast and lunch items.  Artists of the West Elks will hold an AWEfest to showcase members’ work adjacent to the market from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.  Wrap up the weekend with the free Sundays @ 6 summer concert series hosted by Gunnison Arts Center at Legion Park.
Special Deals
With Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s Fourth of July & Bluegrass In Paradise Specials, save 15% on lodging at Grand Lodge Hotel, Lodge at Mountaineer Square or Elevation Hotel & Spa and receive a free scenic lift ride for stays between July 1 – 7.  Call Crested Butte Vacations at 800.810.7669 or visit www.skicb.com and find out all the details.  One single ride lift ticket will be provided per person on the lodging reservation. 
Vacation Packages & Visitor Information
To save on flights, hotel rooms, vacation packages, car rentals and more, call the Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association reservation hotline at (888) 559-0841 or go to http://book.GunnisonCrestedButte.com. For destination information, call (800) 814-8893 or visit www.GunnisonCrestedButte.com.
About Gunnison-Crested Butte, Colorado
Nestled in a valley with nearly two million acres of pristine, mountainous wilderness, Gunnison-Crested Butte has a prime location in southwest Colorado.  Winter sports enthusiasts know the area for its world-class alpine skiing and snowboarding, cross-country skiing, ice fishing and more. Fair-weather activities include mountain biking, hiking, wildflower and wildlife viewing, climbing, boating, whitewater rafting, kayaking, fly-fishing, camping and horseback riding.  Year-round visitors enjoy distinctive restaurants, locally-owned shops, stimulating cultural opportunities and festivals galore ranging from the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival and Gunnison Cattlemen’s Days to Crested Butte Bike Week and Gunnison Car Show weekend.
Along a 31-mile stretch of wide-open vistas and stunning scenery, visitors can explore Gunnison, Almont, Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte and connect with the quaint and historic burgs of Pitkin, Gothic, Tin Cup, Marble, Powderhorn and Crystal, also located in Gunnison County. Gunnison and Crested Butte, both founded in 1880, are known for their Victorian-era charm, friendly Western hospitality and free-spirited nature.  Almont is a fishing, rafting and rock climbing mecca, and the resort village of Mt. Crested Butte is home to renowned Crested Butte Mountain Resort.  Visitors also can explore Curecanti National Recreation Area, home to Colorado’s largest body of water, and the nearby Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.  Gunnison County is part of the West Elk Loop and Silver Thread Scenic & Historic Byways.
Gunnison-Crested Butte is conveniently located in southwestern Colorado, a scenic 4-hour drive from Denver via U.S. Highway 285 or a 3½ hour drive from Colorado Springs on U.S. Highway 50. Air service to the Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport (GUC) for the 2013 summer/fall season is provided by United Airlines with direct flights from Denver (DEN).