Salida celebrates summer with jazz and hot dogs in the park

A small-town tradition continues this Labor Day weekend when Salida city employees serve up hot dogs and refreshments to residents and friends at the Hometown Picnic in Riverside Park on Sunday, Sept. 3, from 2 to 6 p.m. The annual event celebrates the end of a long and busy summer in Salida. City officials will be on hand grilling up hot dogs available for purchase and handing out free popcorn.

The picnic was started in 2012 when Salida and all of Colorado was experiencing extreme drought and was prohibited from having the fireworks show on July 4th. City staff came up with the idea of the picnic as a way to bring the fireworks show to the community. This was the year that, instead of real fireworks, a video of a previous fireworks show was projected on a large screen provided by the SteamPlant Event Center. The screen was actually the one donated to the SteamPlant from the Unique Theater.

Following the video was a music and laser light show. The picnic was held in the late afternoon and fireworks were shot off at dusk. The Labor Day weekend picnic was so successful that City Council asked that it become an annual event.

The first picnic also included an apple pie baking contest.

Coming up from the San Luis Valley to play some live music from 2 to 4 p.m. is the San Luis Valley Big Band. The 18-piece band has become a regular at the picnic, and like years past, will accompany the hometown party with dancing tunes at Salida Rotary Amphitheater.

For over 13 years, the San Luis Valley Big Band has been touring Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico and bringing big band jazz to the Rocky Mountains. The nonprofit group consists of members from many different professions and walks of life but is dedicated to promoting music education and encouraging students to pursue careers in music.

From 4 to 6 p.m., the local CMC Jazz Project Big Band will perform. The group’s membership is a combination of students enrolled in Colorado Mountain College, area high school students and many community members drawn from Salida, Buena Vista and Leadville as wll as Cotopaxi and Colorado Springs.

The Hometown Picnic kicks off at 2 p.m. and will be swinging for the better part of the afternoon until it winds down at 6 p.m. All neighbors and friends are encouraged to attend this free event sponsored by the city of Salida.