It ain't New Orleans, but it likes to party like it is, and with Fat Tuesday coming up, Summit County is gearing up for another round.The festivities start Saturday with the annual Mardi Gras ball at Beaver Run Resort in Breckenridge, featuring the blues, pop, Gospel and jazz stylings of Denver phenom Hazel Miller. This year's party also features Brazilian samba dancers for the first time. The attire is mountain formal - that nebulous style that runs the gamut from high heels and tuxedos to jeans and snow boots. "I'm wearing a vintage '60s dress, and probably the first time I've worn heels in months, with a boa and a mask," said Rachel Zerowin, spokesperson for the Breckenridge Resort Chamber (BRC), when pressed.Costumes, beads and masks are all game; guests can purchase them at the event or stop by Holly's Pizazz Boutique, 101 N. Main St. Unit D in Breckenridge for more options. The ball is also an occasion to honor the 2013 Mardi Gras Rex (king) and queen, Rob Neyland and Lauren Lewsadder, who were selected by a panel of prior winners. "Fifteen years ago in 1999, Bill Wishowski was the first Breckenridge local to be king," said Gavin Dalgliesh, BRC events coordinator. "Prior to that, all royalty were refugees who came to Breck from New Orleans to trade out their hometown craziness for ours."Last year's king and queen were John O'Connor of Steak & Rib and Alison Van Straten."I love the Mardi Gras masquerade ball because it's a great opportunity to get dressed up and usually there's a 'second line' that happens," said Zerowin, who is from New Orleans. "A New Orleans-themed Congo line would be the best way to describe it." Dinner will be New Orleans-style cuisine including a fresh Louisiana crawfish and shrimp boil, corn, new potatoes, Andouille sausage, chicken and sausage gumbo, crawfish etouffee, fried catfish fingers with Cajan remoulade, Camillia red beans and rice, chicken and sausage jambalaya, Bananas Foster and king cakes.The evening costs $55 per person, $100 per couple and $450 for a table of 10. Purchase tickets online at http://bit.ly/YCOEDN, at the Breckenridge Welcome Center (203 S. Main St.) or by calling (970) 453-5055.
On Tuesday, Breckenridge throws down with a mountain-style Mardi Gras parade. The parade begins at 4:30 p.m. and includes floats and characters handing trinkets out to the crowd. Post-parade parties take place at restaurants and bars around town."Breckenridge doesn't need much of an excuse to gather on Main Street and have a good time. Mardi Gras resonates here because it's about cutting loose and having fun;" said Dalgliesh, "however, the Breckenridge celebration is family friendly."To register a float for the parade, visit http://bit.ly/YEpipa, and for stay-and-play packages call (888) 251-2417 or visit www.GoBreck.com.
Down the road in Frisco, The Barkley Ballroom and Ollie's Pub and Grub join forces for an all-out Main Street courtyard party, starting at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Todd Altschuler of The Barkley Ballroom, which recently reinvented itself as a venue for live acts, is a 15-year veteran of New Orleans' Jazz Fest. He hand-selected two bands with distinctly different styles to grace the stages at the two venues, which share a courtyard at 610 Main St. in Frisco."Funk and Delta blues are two staples of New Orleans sound and the bands playing on Tuesday will truly bring out the Mardi Gras vibe," Altschuler said. First there's the 11-piece Colorado funk-and-party band, Atomga, which will play four sets at the Barkley Ballroom. The band features a four-piece horn section and "awesome percussion," Altschuler said.Next door at Ollie's, the high-energy blues band, Erik Boa and the Constrictors, also will play four sets. The group plays everything from Delta blues and swing to boogie-woogie, and is a winner of the Colorado Blues Society International Blues Competition. There will be New Orleans-style food and drink like gumbo, jambalaya and hurricanes. A $5 wristband buys entry into both Frisco venues and the courtyard that connects them.
In Keystone, Fat Tuesday runs from 2:30-5 p.m. in River Run Village with the annual gumbo competition, presented by Keystone Resort and the Keystone Neighborhood Company. There will also be a beignet bake-off, new this year. It's $10 for unlimited tasting while Da Hoodoo Men, a six-piece New Orleans cover act, plays until 5:30. For more info on Keystone's Fat Tuesday, visit www.keystoneresort.com or see our piece, "Music, art & grub."
Next weekend, Copper Mountain Resort concludes Summit County's Mardi Gras celebrations with Fat Saturday on Feb. 16. The celebration features masks, beads and N'awlins drink specials along with a Woodward Rail Jam and tunes by DJ Cajun Chris, a Mardi Gras parade, a 6:30 p.m. performance by the Boulder fire-dancing troupe, Cosmic Fire and fireworks over West Lake at 7.