Visit the big top at Copper Mountain Resort’s Cider Circus
To showcase Colorado’s growing cider industry, Copper Mountain Resort will host the fourth annual Cider Circus this weekend.
“Five years ago I used to hear ‘I don’t like cider,’ and that’s because they only like cider that was mass produced, made from concentrate and high in sugar,” said Stephanie Carson, festival producer and director of SuperFly Fabulous Events. “Once you’re able to try true craft cider that’s made from fresh-pressed juices and local apples, it’s a whole different ballgame.”
Guests will first get the opportunity to experience the festival on Friday with two limited-seating cheese-pairing sessions. The first begins at 5 p.m. and both will have world cheese judge Michael Landis educate attendees on what types of ciders go with a variety of gourmet cheeses.
The dog- and kid-friendly festival kicks off in full on Saturday with a grand tasting from 2-6 p.m. If someone wants to get in the door earlier, first pour tickets are available to purchase and grant access to the festival an hour ahead of time. In addition to shorter lines, the jump-start provides the chance to sample from small-batch kegs that won’t be replenished when emptied.
The majority of cideries at the festival will be from Colorado, such as Stem Ciders, C Squared Ciders and Talbott’s Cider. Also, the Colorado Cider Guild will hold demonstrations to discuss the properties of cider and educate people on how it’s made while mixologists will infuse samples to change up the flavors.
For those that say they don’t like cider, breweries like Epic Brewing and Periodic Brewing will also be present. However, Carson sees the reluctant frequently pick up a glass of cider and convert to being a fan.
“More often than not, the people who come looking for beer end up tasting cider,” she said. “They become educated to the fact that there’s much more than what you can find in your grocery stores 10 years ago. It’s changed a lot.”
Salem and Hobo Village will perform music throughout the day to entertain the crowd during tastings.
The main event this year, though, is Colorado’s own Salida Circus. Founded in 2007, the circus will perform three 35-minute shows involving stiltwalking, magic, acrobatics and juggling.
“Our juggler is an absolutely fanatical circus guy and he was a former American Ninja Warrior,” said Jennifer Dempsey, Salida Circus founder. “Our aerialists, the Flying Haggertys, are awesome.”
According to Dempsey, the trapeze family was traveling through Colorado when, during a stop in Salida, they found out about the circus. In 2016 they subsequently decided to relocate from Florida.
Though Dempsey was introduced to the circus at the age of 8 in an afterschool program with her siblings in Virginia, it wasn’t until she spent a year abroad in Belfast, Northern Ireland, that she rediscovered her passion. In 1989, she volunteered for a social circus there that brought Catholic and Protestant children together. She ended up becoming the artistic director and worked there for 12 years.
Inspired by the idea of using circus as a community-building tool, Dempsey and her sister Jessica started the Scarlet Sisters Circus in Orange County, California. Five years later she moved to Salida to be with her mother and started the Salida Circus.
In 2015 the group became part of Cirque du Soleil’s social circus network, furthering Dempsey’s ability to use the circus as a social work tool and outreach program for marginalized youth. Currently, Salida Circus runs five workshops in Salida, Buena Vista, Cotopaxi, Moffatt and Crestone. Each involved bringing in traditional circus skills like juggling and unicycling to teach them life skills.
“The idea seems to be catching on,” Dempsey said. “People really like the whole idea of circus and the community-building aspect of it. Along the way, we get these kids and adults skilled up and trained up and they get hired out to do these fantastic gigs.”
From festivals to corporate events, the circus averages 80 professional bookings a year throughout Colorado and New Mexico. Sometimes their work takes them overseas, such as an upcoming performance at the Bethlehem International Performing Arts Festival in Palestine in October.
Dempsey believes the show will have something for everyone, regardless of age.
“You’re never too old or too jaded for the circus. … Our magician and ringmaster is a comedy performer who never fails to charm the audience, whether they’re in their teens, or 20s or older. I think that live performance is something unique, especially in today’s world of computers and video games and whatnot. There’s something really special about a live performance that brings people together.”
The circus has performed in Copper before, most recently at Copper Crush, but this is their first time appearing at the cider festival.
“We’re really, really excited to be coming out to it. I’m thrilled that we were invited,” Dempsey said.
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