Open-air painting, wildflower hikes and more at ‘Wild About Colorado’ festival in Breckenridge this weekend |

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Open-air painting, wildflower hikes and more at ‘Wild About Colorado’ festival in Breckenridge this weekend

Mark Fox/Summit Daily"Plein air" artists paint surrounded by the serenity of Summit County vistas.

Summit County celebrates wildflowers, wildlife and wild lands at the fifth annual plein air art festival, which returned to Breckenridge for a second year Thursday and runs through Saturday night.

Previously known as the “Art and Wildflower Celebration,” the festival was renamed “Wild About Colorado” this year to reflect an expanded emphasis.

The three-day event centers around 16 open-air artists invited to render local wild vistas in paint, in addition to a full slate of wildflower and history hikes, art and photography workshops, a natural botanicals beauty product making seminar and the festival’s namesake art show today at 5 at Carter Park Pavilion.

“En plein air” means “painted outdoors from nature” in French, and tonight’s show features the artists’ works created Thursday in wild landscapes around Breckenridge, in addition to studio pieces. People’s Choice, Artist’s Choice and Best in Show are among the prize categories to be awarded. The work will be framed and available for purchase, with proceeds benefitting land conservation efforts by the Continental Divide Land Trust.

“Connecting plein air art to the land trust’s work of land conservation is a natural fit,” said land trust director Leigh Girvin. “These artists need the inspiration of natural lands, scenic landscapes, wildflowers and wildlife … a painting captures a moment, an image, a scene in a timeless way.”

“For the public, it’s a wonderful way to get an original, framed work of art that captures the mountain scenery we all love, and also make a contribution to an organization working to keep it preserved forever,” she said.

Other activities include a 1 p.m. historical presentation today by Colorado School of Mines graduate Rick Hague. “Getting Blasted by Candlelight” takes an in-depth look at the life of underground miners in both Summit County and the American West between 1880 and the early 1900s. The suggested donation is $15.

Before the arts reception, learn to make magnets from local wildflowers at 3 p.m. at the Fuqua Livery Stable in Breckenridge. Pre-registration is advised, and the suggested donation is $20.

Two guided hikes leave Carter Park at 8:45 a.m. Saturday: a three-hour guided wildflower hike led by wildflower enthusiasts, and a historical ghost-town hike led by Roger Thweatt, author of “Ghost Town Sites Along Boreas Pass.”

“The drier conditions this season have benefited certain wildflowers,” said Girvin. “Wild roses and fireweed – not a weed, but a lovely flower – are loving these conditions.”

On the ghost-town hike, Thweatt will lead participants through old railroads and ruins, using dowsing rods to search for ghosts. The suggested donation for both hikes is $10, and pre-registration is recommended.

Also on Saturday, Colorado artist and former local Ann Weaver – who has created posters for the Breckenridge Music Festival, the town of Frisco and others – will lead a 9:15 a.m. art workshop on watercolors.

Breckenridge resident artist and local photographer Carl Scofield rounds out the festivities with a workshop on “seeing photographically.” The four-hour session begins at 1 p.m. at Carter Park before heading into the field to explore design and compositional elements. Participants should bring a digital camera. The workshop is limited to 10 people, and the suggested donation is $40.

“The event gets bigger every year,” Girvin said. “Last year we had over 200 people participate.” Visit for the full schedule. To register for an activity, email or call (970) 453-3875.

“Part of the mission of CDLT is to help educate people on the importance of land conservation to help preserve mountain landscapes and what’s natural and wild about Colorado,” Girvin said. “The festival does this by getting people out to enjoy open space and learn more about it on guided hikes, and by having artists capture the scenery on canvas.”

The Continental Divide Land Trust is currently working on a new conservation easement project in the Lower Blue as well as a potential re-alignment of Highway 9 through a conservancy holding by the Colorado Department of Transportation. For more information about the Continental Divide Land Trust, visit