Leadville festival returns

The 3rd Annual Leadville BBQ and Brew Festival returns stronger than ever this weekend, June 22-23. It’s a free invitation for barbecue connoisseurs to taste and compete, a public exhibition of Leadville’s Harrison Avenue in summer glory, and family-friendly games and entertainment, all with the official stamps of approval from the Kansas City Barbecue Society and Rocky Mountain Barbecue Association. Beginning this Friday at 10 a.m., running until Saturday at 5:30 p.m., enjoy an open roam on Leadville’s main drag before it takes on a new look in 2020, care of the Colorado Department of Transportation.

This June weekend began in 2015 as an enterprise of the Leadville/Lake County Chamber of Commerce. Complications arose in 2017 when demands to redesign the layout pressed upon the planning committee, leading to an unexpected cancellation just one week before the event. But all involved went straight to the drawing board, determined to keep alive what had been a valuable addition to the Leadville summer.

In its third incarnation, The Leadville BBQ and Brew Festival boasts 34 competitors, 11 vendors, 10 breweries and $10,152 in cash prizes (one dollar for each foot in elevation). Booths will line the east and west sides of Harrison Avenue with an open mall down the center. A ticketed currency, called “Leadbills,” will exchange for food and drink at the festival and is also exchangeable at participating businesses on Harrison.

A kids’ zone will be part of the stretch with carnival games, prizes and treats. Precocious children can compete in a separate barbecue contest, the Kids Q. Future chefs need to submit their names by 10 a.m. Friday and be present for check-in at 3 p.m. While kids have great accommodations, furry friends will be turned away at the gate as this is a strictly dog-free event.

The 101st Army Band rings in both days, at 11:30 a.m. Friday and at 10:45 a.m. Saturday. Friday’s set list then continues with local singer-songwriter Jessie Lee Thetford at 1:15 p.m., local Americana revivalist cadre Lake County Rain at 3 p.m. and Denver blues band Deja Voodoo at 5:15 p.m. At 8 p.m. Warsaw Poland Bros. will close out the night. Warsaw Poland Bros. recently opened for The English Beat in San Juan Capistrano and features ska trombone and trumpet.

Saturday’s live music begins after the 101st Army Band with Leadville’s own Groovespeak at 12:15 p.m., followed by two sets from Avon rock duo Schlep n’ Wolf with guest musicians at 2:15 and 4:45 p.m.

At the Tabor Opera House, catch acclaimed Americana musician Marc Berger at 7:30 p.m. Friday. On Saturday Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal take the Tabor stage at 8 p.m., bringing just what the name would suggest, soul and rhythm and blues. Tickets are available at the box office on Harrison Avenue, or at brownpapertickets.com.

Don’t forget to wander off Harrison Avenue, as many of the city’s most prided operations lie off the beaten path. Think about lodging at The Columbine Hotel or the Silver King Inn, both located on North Poplar Street; grabbing margaritas at age-old establishment The Grill on Elm Street; or picking up outdoor supplies at Saturdays south of town on U.S. Highway 24. And Leadville’s last standing barbecue joint, The Pastime, featuring smoked brisket, beer bucket deals and Friday night karaoke, is located on West Second Street.

For more about this event visit leadvillebbq.com, or call the chamber of commerce at 719-486-3900.