Late Summer/Fall Festival Season Kicks Off With Major Bang This Weekend

photo by CR Chambers
photo by CR Chambers

Cruise, Octoberfest and fall festival part of the forthcoming lineup

TMJ Staff

Teller County and the lower Ute Pass will showcase their fall festive side starting with the annual Cruise Above the Clouds event in Woodland Park and Cripple Creek this Saturday and Sunday.

And this is just the beginning of a month-long celebration that also sports the 20th annual Rocky Mountain Octoberfest, a fall festival in Cripple Creek, aspen tours, great entertainment at the Butte Theater, a brew fest in Manitou Springs, a Scavanger hunt; and then there is Halloween, an event that has no parallel in the high country.

The area’s festival season definitely concludes in style in the next two months, with a slew of events that many locals consider the best of the 2017 offerings.

Cruise Above the Clouds

The Cruise Above the Clouds is regarded by many as the best event in the region and one credited with really giving back to the community. It was rated as the region’s premiere event by readers of The Mountain Jackpot during the publication’s annual “Best Of” contest that attracted thousands of responses. Officials from both Woodland Park and Cripple Creek have heavily praised the event, as have tourists, business owners and locals. It has been a mainstay of the region for close to 30 years.  

This year’s rally will once again feature hundreds of classic cars, trucks and motorcycles. On Saturday (Sept. 9), the main display will return to the revamped Memorial Park in Woodland Park. This will be a  much needed improvement from last year, as the park was under construction.

Also, the event this year will sport a little extra competition. The event organizers, headed by Phil Layton, have partnered with Michael Garmin Studio’s and The Mountain Jackpot to create a special awards as never before seen at area car shows. Major award winners will receive autographed editions of Michael Garmin’s popular “Newsman” piece with an added twist, courtesy of TMJ. Special award categories will receive another of Garmin’s piece, “Blackjack.”  

Entrees from around the country will be vying for 70 trophies.

The car show, presented by the Phil Long family of dealerships, heads to Cripple Creek Saturday afternoon, with an all-day showing on Bennett Avenue on Sunday (Sept. 10). A sunset show is scheduled for 4 p.m. The Cripple Creek festivities also call for a street dance.  The Cruise festival and related events will be discussed at this Wednesday’s city council meeting in Cripple Creek.

The event has gained growing popularity in the last few years, as it has involved both the communities of Woodland Park and Cripple Creek.  Many local businesses, including TMJ, are involved in sponsoring the car show. Other sponsors include the Triple Crown Casinos, the cities of Cripple Creek and Woodland Park, the Newmont Mining Company, IREA, Andersen Enterprises, NAPA Auto Parts, the Dinosaur Resource Center, RMC Distributing Company and Rex Tire, just to name a few.

Another plus of the event is the fact that the event organizers give a lot back to the community. In fact, local charities in Teller County actually emerge as the big winners of Cruise Above the Clouds, with proceeds benefitting many nonprofits.  



The month-long festival celebration will continue throughout September, often regarded as the time of Colorado’s best weather.

The Rocky Mountain Oktoberfest is scheduled for the weekend of  Sept. 16-17, and will  occur at the Ute Pass Cultural Center. This event is probably largest-attended festival in Woodland Park. This year will mark the 20th annual Oktoberfest celebration.

It originally started as a small gathering and a way to pay tribute to this great European-style celebration. But the event, spearheaded by the Woodland Park Chamber of Commerce, has definitely expanded to the extent that a shuttle service is provided for Oktoberfest-goers at the high school to help accommodate the large crowds.   

The festival features great entertainment, food, beer, wine and brats, and tributes to the old country. If you are big fan of Oktoberfest gigs, you will love this gathering. And if you just like a good entertaining celebration, you also are in luck. Plenty of kid games are in store also.

Like the Cruise Above the Clouds, Oktoberfest has attracted many sponsors from businesses in the area, including TMJ.

In addition, the event has become a major success to an unprecedented level of support from Oktoberfest volunteers.

Fall Festival

The city of Cripple Creek may have parted way with its Mine to Mine running challenge this year. (Face it, competitive running and the Cripple Creek gaming community just aren’t a good match. I know a couple of TMJ competitors tried the course once and never quite finished. In fact, they may be still trying to reach the finish line.)

But last year, the town hit the special event jackpot with a major fall celebration called the Big Aspen Happnin’ Fall Festival.  This comes at the tail end of aspen jeep tours, sponsored by the Two Mile High Club, and features a variety of entertainment and festivities for an entire several day period from Sept. 30 to Oct. 1.  It also will help kick off the 26th anniversary of limited stakes gaming.

This festival was rated as one of the best new events offered by the city.

Just prior to the fall festival, the district bustled with the aspen jeep tours and the Mt. Pisgah Speaks gatherings, on Sept. 16-17. These are two traditional classics that are part of the town’s autumn landscape.  They also offer rare glimpses into the district’s heritage, with some stories never told before.  

Also, festival-goers can enjoy a showing of “The Nerd” from now through Sept. 23at the Butte Theater.

In late October, the city then will hold its second annual Cripple Creek Scavenger Hunt, which emerged as big hit with the casinos last year. In early November, stay tuned for the Colorado Distilled Spirits Festival.  

Down the Pass, the city of Manitou Springs will feature their Manitou Heritage Brew Festival on Sept. 23 and the town has tentatively planned a big clay fest.

Also, look for some big pre-Halloween festivities in Green Mountain Falls with some unique displays.

So, the fall season, is a prime time to enjoy the high country and catch a few great events.