Paonia’s 19th annual Mountain Harvest Festival runs Sept. 26-29, but such a big festival can hardly be contained in such a short timeframe. A handful of events happen early, and other events require a bit of planning.

“Picture Paonia,” a biannual photo exhibition at the Blue Sage Gallery, runs throughout the festival. Participating photographers are asked to submit images focusing on Paonia’s story and history. Judges will select first through third place winners, with a “People’s Choice” award selected by exhibition visitors. Winners will share prizes totaling $600, donated by The Kampe Foundation.

The competition is also an adjunct event to “Crossroads: Change in Rural America,” a traveling exhibit that will be in Paonia early in 2021. For details, call 970-627-SAGE, visit the Blue Sage at 226-228 Grand Ave. in Paonia, or go to

The Slow Foods Ark of Taste farm to table dinner begins at 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21. Featured chefs Chelsea Bookout with Remedy Cafe and Marcus Parrott with Salt, Pollen restaurant will prepare local foods, many offered on the Slow Food’s Ark of Taste from featured producers Thistle Whistle Farm and Garden, Colorado Pastured Pork. Tickets for the three-venue meal are $75 and available at Brown Paper Tickets or by emailing slow

Pull out your favorite recipes. The 19th annual Harvest Fest chili cook-off happens from 5-7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, at Paonia Town Park. An event as old as the festival itself, cash prizes and prestigious awards are up for grabs in five different categories, plus a $150 People’s Choice award. Pre-registration is required. Early entry is $10 per chili and is due Friday, Sept. 21; late registration is $25 per chili and is due Sept. 26. Visit for a registration form and submission instructions.

It isn’t Harvest Festival without pie. The annual “I Love Pie” contest and fundraiser for the Lambert Grange and Paonia High School cross country team is held in conjunction with the chili cook-off. Categories include custard (pumpkin, squash or perhaps carrot), single-crust cream or meringue, double crust fruit, and “surprise” (any creative pie recipe that doesn’t fit the first three categories). A special “best of show” award will go to gluten- and dairy-free pies entered in any of the above categories.

Pies must be homemade, submitted with a category, name of pie and baker name and contact information. All pies should be presented in disposable pans. No edibles, please. Pies should be delivered to the pie stand near the Town Park gazebo stage by 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27.

Once judging is complete, pie by the slice, multiple slice, half or whole pies will be for sale. For details, visit mountain For more information, or to be a pie judge, call Cassandra at 970-208-7716, or Liane at 970-234-9740.

Harvest Fest also offers a buffet of musical performances. In addition to free music at Town Park, tickets are available for the annual Saturday Sundown Swing, a multi-venue music celebration taking place at Paonia Town Hall, the Blue Sage Center and the Paradise Theatre. Early bird tickets sold before Sept. 28 are $15 and available at Brown Paper Tickets, The Cirque, Back Country Bistro, the Blue Sage and the Paradise Theatre.

Register early at mountainharvestfestival.

org for the Paonia Elementary School 5k Run happening Sunday, Sept. 30. Cost is $25 for adults, $15 for ages 11 and younger, and includes a commemorative headband, participant medal, running bib, and finish line snacks and beverages. This is a family- and stroller-friendly race; for the more serious runners, official times are recorded.

Tickets are also available for the Sept. 26 Harvest of Voices at the Blue Sage. The official kick-off event for Harvest Festival, the event celebrates the bounty of the harvest season with readings of original works by authors from across the Western Slope. Tickets for the Blue Sage are $15. Because the event sells out, readings are streamed live at the Paradise, with admission of $5 suggested donation.

For a full festival schedule and details, visit

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