Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Medieval Fun will be had by all at the Renaissance Fair

Food, shows, and fighting are just some things to look forward to in the Renaissance Fair this summer.  This is the fair's 36th season celebrating the 16th century traditions of jousting, minstrels, and maidens.  There is something for everyone so take a day this summer and head over to West Perry Park to see this spectacle come to life.

The Colorado Renaissance Festival is set to kick off its 36th season this weekend, offering old-fashioned revelry in a spectacular outdoor setting.

The festival, held in nearby Larkspur, celebrates 16th-century style -- with jousters, jesters, minstrels and maidens roaming the grounds to dazzle patrons.

Arts and crafts are also a big part of the festival and a variety of artisans displays their work, including glassblowing, wood and leather working, pottery, blacksmithing and fine arts.

“We have something for everyone,” says Jim Paradise, the festival’s director of marketing. “There are things here that you can’t experience anywhere else in the state.”
Here we run down the Top 5 tips for a memorable step back in time.

Question: What can’t I miss at this year’s renaissance festival?
Answer: Three acts, Paradise says, are the must-see entertainment of the 2012 season.

-- The endangered cat show. Found at the festival’s Castle Rose stage, the show seeks to raise awareness for rare and endangered feline species. Spectators can expect to see appearances from the black panther, caracal, lynx and other exotic cats.
-- The Washing Well Wenches. At the Washing Well stage, Winnie and Myrtle (played by Kerri Slavin and Sara Sincel, respectively) make their laundry chores fun.
-- Arsene of Paris. Don’t miss this renowned juggling mime, sly illusionist and sharp comedian. Look for Arsene’s show at the Globe stage.

Q: When is the best time to go? Now or should I wait until later in the summer?
A: To avoid the biggest crowds, consider visiting earlier in the summer. Paradise notes that the festival tends to be busiest towards the end of its season, with the final two weekends being the most crowded. Saturdays also tend to be busier than Sundays.

Q: Which attractions generally have the longest lines?
A: Returning traditions, such as the jousting events and sword fighters Puke & Snot, continue to attract long lines, so be sure to plan ahead. The endangered cat show, energetic band Celtic Legacy and the Washing Well Wenches are also quite popular and often attract crowds. The festival has a variety of lively entertainment options, though, so you’ll never run out of things to do. Find a complete summary of the Colorado Renaissance Festival’s acts and shows at their website.

Q: What else is there to take in?
A: While enjoying the array of entertainment options and art displays, don’t forget about the festival’s food and drink. Highlights include steak on a stake, sausage on a stick, roasted corn and an assortment of ales. The festival’s most popular food item, by far, is their grilled turkey drumsticks. Approximately 100,000 turkey legs are served over the course of the summer.

Q: Where can I get the best bang for my buck?
A: While the entire event is a great value, Paradise says, you can’t miss “an Italian ice on a summer day.” Sometimes referred to as “orange balls,” these sweets are tasty and refreshing.

Q: What’s the best way to get there?
A: From Colorado Springs, take Interstate 25 and get off at Exit 172 to Larkspur. To avoid heavy traffic, though, you may want to consider approaching from the south, by way of Palmer Lake. From Colorado Springs, take Exit 161 off Interstate 25 to Monument. Follow Highway 105 until you reach Highway 18; turn north. Continue on Highway 18. Turn west onto Larkspur Road. Larkspur Road eventually becomes West Perry Park Avenue.

For more details on the fair go to

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Spend Your Summer Rafting and Kayaking

Looking for something new and adventurous to do this summer?  How about learning how to Raft and Kayak?  Your instructor will teach you all about rafting and kayaking so you can eventually go out on the water yourself and enjoy a nice warn Colorado Springs Day.  Learn more about the programs offered below.

DSC 0430 Rafting & KayakingGet ready for summer now; learn all the basics of whitewater kayaking in a safe, controlled, WARM swimming pool. Your expert instructor will teach you all about your equipment, how to maneuver the kayak, and – most importantly – the Eskimo Roll and wet exit! This class is a prerequisite for our summer kayaking classes on the Arkansas River. For details, click here.
Dates: Available year round by request.
Cost: $15-$20/hour per person (cost depends on the number of participants).
Sign up deadline: No later than one week in advance.


Be the master of your own whitewater destiny. Navigate nine miles of Class III-IV rapids of the Arkansas River’s Bighorn Sheep Canyon in an inflatable kayak. Enjoy the challenging rapids, beautiful scenery and an exciting time on the river.
Click here for more information.
Dates: May 25 through August 12
Cost: $50 per person for half day rafting
           $80 per person for full day rafting
Sign up deadline: 48 hrs prior to trip departure

Whitewater Rafting
Just 45 minutes away, Bighorn Sheep Canyon and the Royal Gorge sections of the Arkansas River make up our most popular raft trips. Experience the adrenaline pumping action throughout the magnificent 1100 foot deep Royal Gorge. All the required river gear – helmets, life jackets (PFD), etc. – are provided along with a picnic style lunch, river guide and roundtrip transportation.

WHITEWATER RAFTING – Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 25-August 12, 2012
rafting 2 Rafting & Kayaking 

Thrilling. Exciting. Awesome. On the half-day trip, paddle nine miles down Bighorn Sheep Canyon’s Class III rapids, and then have lunch. On the full-day trip, you will travel the same stretch of river through Bighorn Sheep Canyon, stop to have lunch, and then continue through the Royal Gorge on a challenging stretch of Class V rapids. Click here for details.
Dates: May 25 through August 12
Cost: $50 per person for half day rafting, $80 per person for full day rafting
Sign up deadline: 48 hrs prior to trip departure. Call 556-4867.


Groups of 20 or more get a 10% discount. Private groups: $60/person for half-day trips; $90/person for full-day trips.
Sign up: Please call an Outdoor Adventure Programmer for reservations, 556-4867.

For more information about these programs check out Rafting and Kayaking.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Meadowgrass Music Festival Opens This Weekend

Head on over to teh La Foret Conference & Retreat Center for the Memorial Day Weekend MeadowGrass Music Festival.  The weekend is full of music and activities for the entire family.  Listen to music, enjoy the outdoors and even take a dip in the swimming pool.  Multiple musicians are headlining the festival with performances that you do not want to miss. 

big-daddy-loveThe sun. The vistas. The beer. And of course, the music.

Since 2008, the MeadowGrass Music Festival has virtually defined the early days of summer for Pikes Peak music lovers — and increasingly every year, those far beyond the region.

“The first MeadowGrass was just 100 to 150 people a day,” says Steve Harris, event organizer and voice of KRCC’s Grass Roots Revival. “The next year was 400 to 600. Last year was over a 1,000 each day. All indications look like it will be bigger than ever this year.”

More than 20 bands are featured this year. Headliners include national acts — Son Volt, Elizabeth Cook, the Barr Brothers, Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks, and others — as well as bands that have made their bones in the area — Grass It Up, The Flumps, Mango Fan Django, Edith Makes a Paperchain and others.

“Some people come to me and say, ‘I don’t like bluegrass,’” Harris says. “But we’ve tried very hard to make it clear that it’s a diverse offering, all loosely grouped under Americana.
“We’ve been very successful at bringing acts that you may not heard up of but are on the cutting edge and up-and-coming.”

And in an interesting riff on the usual suspects, the Chamber Singers of the Colorado Springs Chorale will perform composer Carol Barnett’s “A World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass” with Jake Schepps & the Expedition Quartet.

For more information about the festival and the performers head to

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Welcome home to our soldiers!

In the past two weeks more than 700 soldiers returned home to Colorado Springs, after a year deployment in Afghanistan.  The 2nd Brigade Combat Team was in charge of security, building governmental capacity, and communicating progress to the Afghan people.  Families and friends waited a year for this day, but now are so happy that their loved ones our home.


More than 300 Fort Carson soldiers are scheduled to return from overseas this week after 400 were welcomed home Sunday night and Monday afternoon.  About 200 members of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division came home Sunday night, with about 200 more returning Monday. These soldiers assisted Afghan Security Forces and the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to help defend and provide for the Afghan people.

The ‘Warhorse’ brigade partnered with Afghan Uniformed Police, Afghan Local Police, Afghan National Army and district-level government officials to defeat the insurgency by expanding security, building governmental capability and capacity and communicating Afghan progress to the Afghan people.

At the homecoming Monday afternoon soldiers said it was good to be home.  "It's wonderful. You can't beat it, nothing like it," Staff Sgt. John Dalgleish said.

Some found it hard to put into words what it felt like.  "It feels great to be back, I can't even describe it," Spc. Nathan Head said.

After nearly a year of being apart, some family members couldn't believe their loved one was actually home.

"It's surreal. It's definitely surreal. I won't believe it until he's taken out the garbage," Jessica Knicely said.

About 200 more soldiers from the brigade are scheduled to return Tuesday afternoon.  The brigade replaced the 1st Brigade Combat Team when they deployed in May and June of 2011.  Early Wednesday morning, about 130 soldiers from the 615th Construction Engineer Company will be welcomed back to the Mountain Post.

These soldiers were deployed to Bahrain for post-wide security operations and operated out of Isa Air Base. They were required to provide tower security around the post; provide Airfield Security for all naval aircraft entering and exiting Isa airfield and were personally responsible for all vehicle inspections conducted prior to venturing onto the base.

For more information please see the Colorado Connection.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Neighborly Love For The Colorado River

The Associated Press has a great feature piece on our neighbor, the Colorado River. If you haven't gotten to make the day trip out, we highly recommend it. The views are great and the experience is awesome.
Recreation on the Colorado River and its tributaries contributes about $17 billion in direct spending annually to the economies of six of the states that depend on its water, according to a study released Friday.

The report was commissioned by Protect the Flows, which represents small businesses such as fishing guides and others who rely on the Colorado River basin in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.
 Not to mention the fact that supporting our local businesses is reason enough to make use of the bounty of natural beauty.
The figure of $17 billion in direct spending from river recreation would likely be higher if visits from outside the region were included, said Sarah Sidwell, manager of Tag-A-Long Expeditions in Moab, Utah. Sidwell said 40 percent of customers for her rafting and off-road business are international.

"Our stake in this is huge," Sidwell said of keeping the river system healthy. "We need to have a flowing river in order for me to have a job and 100 part-time employees to have jobs."

Rhett Bain, owner of Reel Deal Anglers in Jackson, Wyo., said a seasonal guide for his business earns about $30,000 in 90 days including tips.

"We're supporting jobs in an economy that has no jobs," he said.

By comparison, a 2006 study that Southwick conducted for the Outdoor Industry Foundation estimated outdoor recreation nationwide contributed $730 billion to the U.S. economy annually.

To put the $17 billion in spending in context, Southwick said the figure tops the annual revenue of some top companies, including General Mills Inc.

"It's tough to know the value of water until it's gone, but the Southwick report starts to put some good numbers on the economic effect of keeping water in our river," said U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat and former mountain guide.

The report comes as the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reviews ideas for how to solve an imbalance in supply and demand in water on the Colorado River.

"Fundamentally, it's an asset we've got to find a way to preserve and protect," said U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.

Santana Garcia of the Las Vegas Latin Chamber of Commerce said even businesses that don't depend directly on the Colorado River focus heavily on conserving water because businesses contribute to spending for reservoir projects.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Reduce Clutter

Still working on your spring cleaning? Reduce clutter with these vanity storage solutions (h/t Apartment Therapy)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Upcoming mega-sale will help fill, purge kids' closets

What a great event! Make sure to take advantage of the early birdie shopping – looks like a great deal!

Whether your child’s closet is as full as a grocery cart on payday or as empty as a snack drawer after a sleepover, Just Between Friends’ upcoming sale may be able to help.

The semiannual event — which will feature gently used children’s toys, gear and warm-weather clothing — will take place Wednesday, April 11 through Saturday, April 14 at the Colorado Springs Event Center, 3960 Palmer Park Blvd.

Military moms, consigners, volunteers and first time parents and grandparents will have a chance to shop Tuesday and Wednesday morning before the sale opens to the public at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

It’s not too late to sell at JBF, though many first-time consigners who try to prepare their items at the last minute underestimate the task, said Lynn Jennings, co-owner of JBF’s Colorado Springs franchise.

“It is a process to get the clothes tagged and all that,” Jennings said.

Potential consigners have through April 6 to register at the JBF website.

Though readying consignment items per JBF’s directions takes time and patience, Jennings said the work can pay off.

A few of the benefits: Items tend to seller quicker than they do at consignment shops, consigners get a higher percentage of sales, and payment comes in the form of a check — not in-store credit.

“It’s faster, and they get their money quicker,” Jennings said. “They can drop off as much as they want. We don’t have a limit.

“They can pretty much purge their house in a week.”

For those simply looking to fill up empty closets, Jennings said the sale’s items will be free of holes, stains and smells and tagged at 50 to 90 percent below original retail price, with many reducing by an additional 50 percent on Saturday.

“We do an inspection process when consigners drop off,” Jennings said. “We want to take the best quality we can. We even do a recall check on items such as strollers, car seats and toys.”

Many consigners choose to have their unsold items donated to Airman’s Attic — a Peterson Air Force Base organization that donates children’s clothing and other essentials to service members — at the end of the sale.

“We usually fill a moving truck,” said Jennings of the donated leftovers. “They benefit greatly, which is wonderful for military families.”

For more information on the sale, visit the Colorado Springs JBF website here.

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