Rainbow Weekend

Art in the Park, Balloon Rodeo highlights of Steamboat tradition

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— Many people identify Rainbow Weekend with hot-air balloons. For 22 years, people have come to Steamboat Springs from all over to fly, or watch the flight of, hot-air balloons, in one of the most beloved rallies around. They get up early to watch the balloon inflation and stick around for the balloon rodeo launch.

Some stay in motor homes at the Meadows Parking Lot, with Steamboat Springs being a stop on a balloon festival tour of sorts.

Anyone who has seen the balloon shine, when the night sky turns all the colors of the rainbow from lit-up hot-air balloons, knows why the balloons are remembered during the weekend.

However, for those who aren't terribly into hot-air ballooning, Rainbow Weekend has grown to be one of the most diverse weekend of events Steamboat Springs has all year.

"It's a great weekend of diversity and color," said Sandy Evans-Hall, Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association executive director.

Hence the name Rainbow Weekend, which was tagged about 20 years ago when the longtime Art in the Park festival, now in its 28th year, and a balloon rally were scheduled the same weekend. Evans-Hall said members of the community decided to turn the weekend into one special event, called Rainbow Weekend. From chamber music by Strings in the Mountains, to theater by Perry-Mansfield and Art in the Park, to the 24th annual Mountain Madness Half-Marathon on Sunday, there truly is something for everyone.

The weekend kicks off with a free concert at Howelsen Hill by Galactic, a part-acid jazz and part-New Orleans funk band. Galactic kicks off the always highly anticipated free summer concert series and is the perfect band to do it, concert committee member Joe Kboudi said.

"People have been looking forward to a good free concert," he said.

A big part of Rainbow Weekend is the Art in the Park fair, which features 125 booths selling handmade items, including pottery, jewelry, clothing, fine art photography and numerous other items.

And don't forget the food; 16 food vendors will be set up in West Lincoln Park.

"It's fun. There is a lot going on," Steamboat Springs Arts Council special events employee Erin Gilbertson said.

There is also a lot of music. Local bands Shenanigans, Blue Sage Shoes, Steamboat Jazz Quartet, Smokehouse Band, Acorns, The Yampa Valley Boys, 3 Wire, Afro Dance and Drum Ensemble and Blue Rooster will play during the two-day festival.

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