What happens when the imaginations of military personnel, hunters, climbers, and construction workers put their minds together? The result might be a really dirty joke—or, in this case, an even dirtier race. Designed and built by a diverse cadre of burly professionals, the Insanity Mud Run forces participants to climb, crawl, jump, and run across 5- and 10-mile courses in Colorado’s rugged terrain. Despite their differences in length, both courses feature 20 obstacles, and, of course, lots of mud. After the last racer has crossed the finish line, the Insanity Mud Run transforms into a family-friendly party where of-age participants and soon-to-be overwhelmed washing machines can reward themselves with an ice-cold beer.
The Plains Conservation Center is an offshoot of the West Arapahoe Conservation District, an organization appointed in 1949 to teach farming and ranching techniques that could help prevent another devastating Dust Bowl. While the PCC's mission has since expanded, the nonprofit organization's main goal remains the same: preserving the health of Colorado's plains. Between its two sites—a main 1,100-acre location in Aurora and more than 10,000 acres spread along West Bijou Creek—the organization maintains several attractions devoted to the history and environmental character of the region. These include more than five miles of hiking trails, a Cheyenne camp from 1837 with four standing tepees, and Wells Crossing, a replica 1887 farm consisting of sod houses, and heirloom gardens. For more modern sites, the Aurora location's visitor center features interactive displays and seasonal events such as Hops for Habitat, an annual fundraiser with beer tastings from local craft brewers.
Expert gourmand Jackie Rebideau has a peculiar passion for cheese. In an effort to share this ardor with the public, she created Fromage to Yours, a company that holds classes and special events to educate people about this celebrated edible. In addition to her recently launched grilled cheese food truck, Mobile Meltz, Jackie teaches pupils about the art of making artisan cheeses such as mozzarella, halloumi, ricotta, and paneer, demonstrating tasteful techniques and dispelling myths that the holes in swiss cheese are formed by mini meteors training for future journeys to the moon. Fromage to Yours also orchestrates special events such as the Colorado Cheese Festival, which more than 150 samples of artisanal American cheese.
Three professional sports teams. Five levels. Forty-five acres. More than 200 events per year. Although these numbers don’t define Pepsi Center, they certainly highlight the impact the entertainment emporium has had on the community since it first opened its doors in 1999. Here, visitors can attend a rousing NBA basketball game, watch Disney stars twirl on ice, or sing along as Madonna belts out her greatest hits and imparts the health benefits of drinking glow-stick juice. They can also dine at one of three distinct restaurants, and, during tours of the impressive facilities, marvel at backstage areas and the 2,000-pound statue in the Grand Atrium.
Seasoned boat captains and crustacean prospectors Sig Hansen, Johnathan Hillstrand, and Andy Hillstrand gather to share with audience members their tales of struggle and survival during crab season on the high seas, as partly documented by the Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch. Fishing the Bering Sea in the middle of winter demands strong wills—which can come together in times of treacherous weather and 100-foot waves or come to blows about who performs better in the three-legged crabwalk race. Selected audience members will also have the chance to don the survival suits from the Time Bandit. Following the story-swapping and previously unreleased video footage, greenhorns and avid fans will have the opportunity to launch questions at the captains, wave giant foam claws, and learn how to communicate in claw-snap Morse code.
The Holiday Food & Gift Festival brings together exhibitors, food vendors, and a slice of Santaland. Artisans forge jewelry, crafts, sculptures, and photography that pile atop exhibition tables to form glittering mountains of potential presents or targets for hatchet-throwing practice. Handmade toys and the irrepressible sparkle of Christmas décor capture the attention of thousands of annual attendees. A vast food court dishes out sweet servings of chocolate alongside hearty heaps of pastas, meats, and specialty sauces.