As fall approaches and the air becomes crisp, people and animals alike begin preparation for the winter. Sweaters, boots, caps and mittens come out as well as a mad dash for anything pumpkin spice. All along the Colorado Rockies trees begin their stunning transformation from their summer to winter bodies and the elk begin their mating season. A fabulous fall experience in Colorado is Elk Fest, the ceremonial start to “Elktober” in Estes Park.
Elk Fest was born 19 years ago in celebration of the elk mating, or “rut” season. During the fall, groups of elk gather in Estes park, considered a home base for Rocky Mountain National park, and compete for mating rights. Loud, high pitched screeches, known as a bugle, are abundant as male elk make their case for dominance and harems of females are ushered through the valley by the victorious bulls.
Elk Fest, celebrates this season by hosting a festival near the first of October. Colorado Parks & Wildlife offered educational booths about the rut, elk biology and how the RMNP manages the elk population. Other activities included guided elk viewing tours, Native American storytelling, dancing and elk inspired arts and crafts for purchase.
As part of the festival, a Mountain Man Rendezvous was organized for Mountain Men to gather and share their skills and stories. They demonstrated skills such as traditional fire starting, pottery making, traditional war paint and how to survive in the wild, you might even find deer jerky along the way.
One event that amused all ages was the Bugle Competition. This competition challenged anyone old or young, male or female to mimic an elk bugle. Contestants were judged by the audience who crowned winners in five different categories based on age. Certainly one of the most entertaining events at Elk Fest. Other events included a 20 minute film titled “Elk of Estes Park” at Town Hall as well as a local, craft beer garden for the 21 and older crowd.
Elk Fest is a fantastic opportunity to get out and enjoy what this great state of Colorado has to offer. The festival will not only educate you about elk and how important they are to our state but it's held in one of the most beautiful settings in Colorado. If you couldn’t make Elk Fest, don’t fret, “Elktober” continues for the rest of October so grab some friends and head out to Estes Park for some Colorado fun.
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