September heralds the start of leaf-peeping season in Summit County, with the first aspen changing into their fall medley of pale greens, yellows, oranges and reds.
In honor of nature's splendor, Frisco will host its third annual Autumn Spectacular celebration starting Saturday and running through Sept. 23.
A new event, Fall Fest, kicks off the festival Saturday and takes the place of Beetlefest, which ran the past four years. The day will include some of the same popular features - like lumbersports and woodworking (using both beetlekill and other wood) - plus a few new ones too.
It's "essentially a celebration of the colors, sights and sounds in the mountains," Frisco spokesperson Suzanne Lifgren said of the retooled event.
Festivities start at 8:30 a.m. with the Mt. Royal Hill Climb, a 5-kilometer ascent race that ends at 10,500 feet at the summit of Mt. Royal, with the victors named king or queen of the mountain. Afterwards, competitors can cool down with a leisurely hike down. "It's good for people with bad knees because running down would hurt," Lifgren said. The idea is to get people into the mountains, experiencing the fall colors firsthand, while also challenging their high elevation running skills.
On Main Street, festivities go from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and include art shows, lumbersports shows, woodcarving, fireman games, live music and an "end of harvest" market featuring jams, pies, fudge and fruits, among other items, from local vendors.
Though lumberjacks were a staple of past Beetlefest celebrations, this year's log rollers and saw blade wielders are all women, as Frisco welcomes Timber Tina's World Champion Lumberjills: "Chics with Axes" for the first time.
The shows take place at 11:15 a.m., 1:15 p.m. and 4:30 and consist of two lumberjills competing against one another in a series of challenges such as axe throwing, cross-cut sawing, underhand chopping and the ever-popular log rolling.
A log roller since age 7, Timber Tina (Tina Scheer) performed in her family's lumberjack show before branching off in 1995 to start the Lumberjills and The Great Main Lumberjack Show.
Lumbersports are a growing niche, with women's divisions making the largest gains, said Scheer, who has been instrumental in that growth. "Ten years ago I went to Australia and competed in the men's division," Scheer said. A year later, they added women's divisions for chopping and sawing. Stateside, she also helped create a women's division at the Lumberjack World Championships.
The Chics with Axes show makes for "a good blend of comedy," said Scheer. "Of course, the men like to see the women doing it, and the women like to see the women doing it too. It's a wholesome show, a fun show. I've been doing logging sports all my life and look forward to doing a really great show."
Also new this year are the fireman games, in which amateur and professional firefighters team up to go head-to-head against other teams. Participants dress in firefighting gear, unroll a fire hose, couple it to the engine, turn on the water, aim and fire at a target.
"This is your chance to play firefighter with a little help from a firefighter," Lifgren said. Prizes include a photo with your partner in crime plus bragging rights. The event is free of charge and open to folks 18 and up; register online at www.townoffrisco.com.
At 2:30 p.m., catch the Nederland-based bluegrass act, Mountain Standard Time, fresh from NedFest. Said to follow in the footsteps of Colorado greats like The String Cheese Incident and Leftover Salmon, Mountain Standard Time creates a bluegrass fusion that leads with guitar and mandolin but rounds out its full-band sound with keyboards, electric bass, drums and electronic effects.
The band has played venues and festivals in Colorado and beyond, including Wakarusa Music Festival, 10,000 Lakes Festival and the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. 2012 marks its return to the live music scene after some time away, now with Otis Lande joining on bass and Ryan Ebarb (formerly of Yamn) on keyboards. If you don't get your fill at Saturday's show, head to three20south on Sept. 15 for an encore.
In addition to Mountain Standard Time, keep an ear out for the women's a cappella group, Mountain Majesty Chorus, who will be strolling Main Street, singing.
Saturday's Fall Fest benefits Friends of the Dillon Ranger District. Autumn Spectacular continues for another two weeks after that, featuring leaf-peeping hikes and other activities before culminating in a fireworks display and live music on Sept. 22.