Teller and Ute Pass High Country buzzing with activities – Rick Langenberg

This weekend, the Teller high country and the lower Ute Pass explodes with a flurry of activity, signaling the actual beginning of summer.

So if you are looking for a prime chance to see an ideal mountain celebration, or rare competition, this is the time to take that opportunity. These festivals put into any rumors to rest of a lack of special events and culture in our high country abode. In fact, move over there Santa Fe, Taos, Boulder and other so-called high-brow festive areas. They may be competing for second place.

Donkey Derby Days, dubbed by locals and visitors, as the premiere festival of southern Teller, rolls into town for the 85th time. The two-day event isn’t lacking in zany festivities from donkey races to dog contests to spitting duels. This festival has won hands-down during the annual Best Of survey conducted by TMJ. No event probably showcases the district’s traditional folklore like Donkey Derby Days, which once featured actual races between Victor and Cripple Creek (see related story for details).

Then the region will bustle with the kick-off the Green Box Arts Festival in Green Mountain Falls, part of a movement to turn this quaint town into an artist mecca unrivaled anywhere in Colorado. The week-long festival plays host to extraordinary art and artists. This event has featured such renowned attractions as Cloud City and 10 Swings. This year, the central focus centers on the outdoor whimsical craftsmanship of Patrick Dougherty and is capped by performances by the Oklahoma City Ballet and New York’s Keigwin and Company. Dougherty will discuss his work on Sunday at 1 Dorothy Conn Park (one of the prime city parks right near the post office). The Green Box also further celebrates such community activities as an official dedication for the reopening of the Sally Bush Community Building. Some other events include a conversation on political leadership and a Mount Dewey spiritual platform. See for details, or check with the festival headquarters at their center next to The Pantry restaurant.

And to top matters off, the weekend will reach a roaring peak with the 100th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb up the mighty Peak. This is the second oldest race in the United States and probably the most unusual. The race had an infusion of support in the last few years.

Race day is Sunday, but if you really want to get a feel for the competition, check out their practice runs or qualifying day on Saturday. It also is the one time that Pikes Peak is open to overnight campers.

The race features some top local contenders, such as Woodland Park’s own Clint Vahsholtz and related family members.
If you attend the actual race, get their early on Sunday, as the highway shuts down. Best viewing spots are usually at the Devil’s
Playground area or around Glenn Cove. Or just hang out at the finish line. For more information, visit