Colorado Harvest Season
Experience the Centennial State’s fall bounty.
By Lisa Blake
Traveling across the Western Slope this summer, farm stands and food festival billboards reminded me there’s an impressive agricultural bounty sprouting from our state’s diverse microclimates and fertile soil. And the best time to taste it all is in August, September and October.
Eat your way across the state, attend exciting festivals and build your home-cooking market list around the freshest Colorado-grown ingredients. Bonus: You’re sure to meet some incredible salt-of-the-earth folks along the way.
The Must-Taste Colorado Crops
Millions of Colorado acres are dedicated to farms and ranches. Cool nights and warm summer days comingle to produce some of the top agricultural offerings in the nation. This fall, be sure to get your hands on these homegrown harvests.
Palisade peaches are drip-down-your-wrists juicy. It’s a true sign of late summer when the golden ripe fruit hits shelves, roadside stands and farmer’s markets. The annual Western Slope treat invokes excitement among cobbler lovers and stone fruit fans everywhere. Grocery stores stock these beauties with pride and sell them by the bag-full. Enjoy the peaches raw, grilled on a salad or baked with butter and oats and served with ice cream.
Named for the southeastern Colorado town where they’re grown, Rocky Ford melons are some of the earth’s sweetest cantaloupes. The Colorado city’s first melons were grown in 1887 and a few years later, the round goddesses were being shipped as far as New York. Eat them sliced, balled or cubed any time of the day.
Kicky and hearty, Pueblo’s green chiles are loved for their diversity and bite. Folks from this southern Colorado town fire-roast, barbecue and bake them. Charred chiles are tossed in breads, sauces and jellies, and even brewed in beer and ciders. Stock up on these green goodies, stash some in the freezer and savor them all winter.
Colorado orchards offer up shiny, crisp green and red apples across welcoming Front Range pick-your-own farms. Sip fresh cider, fill your bucket and head home to bake a perfect fall pie.
Olathe sweet corn has been called the best in the country. It’s sweet, juicy and melts in your mouth. There’s even a festival thrown in its honor. Find these affordable and delicious ears at markets across Colorado. (Kroger has a contract with the farmers, guaranteeing their grocery stores stock the crop annually.)
Attend some of these action-packed fests for the ultimate ag-immersion experience. Meet the farmers and ranchers, ask questions, learn about their passion and taste their latest crops and creations.
Colorado State Fair
Aug. 24–Sept. 3, 2018
The largest summer event in the state hosts music, food, rides and a rodeo.
Fruita Fall Festival
Sept. 21–23, 2018
Spend three days celebrating small town America with 125 arts and food vendors, a cooking contest, dancing and more.
Chile & Frijoles Festival
Sept. 21–23, 2018
Try everyone’s favorite chile a dozen different ways at this fest that includes cooking competitions, live music, dancing, arts and crafts and a farmers market.
Mountain Harvest Festival
Sept. 27–30, 2018
This annual festival celebrates local music, art, farms, food and spirits with a great chili cook-off, grape stomp, farm tours and Saturday sundown swing.
Oct. 6–7, 2018
Head to Colorado’s Grand Mesa for a party honoring the area’s apple harvest with two days of live music, a classic car and antique tractor show and more than 150 vendors.
Check our events calendar for the full Colorado fall festival lineup.
Browse booths selling all of the recently picked treats mentioned above plus fresh cheeses, fish, honey, dog treats, organic bath and body products and much much more. Tip: Come hungry to the Vail Farmers Market—the 135-tent Sunday summer event is known for its 40 hot food vendors that span Italian sandwiches to wild caught Alaskan salmon.
A few of our recurring favorites include the Fruita, Boulder, Vail, Salida, Steamboat Springs and Fort Collins markets. Find your favorite among this comprehensive list of Colorado farmers markets.
Colorado Recipes to Try at Home
Colorado Proud serves up a smattering of farm-fresh recipes. Visit a farmers market or shop for Colorado Proud products at area grocery stores (they’re marked with a purple and yellow sticker) for ingredients found in these tasty recipes:
Colorado Peach Salsa
Apple Trio Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette
Peach Blackberry Shortcakes
Colorado Summer Squash and Sweet Corn Sauté
Olathe Sweet Corn Cakes
Bloody Mary Chicken Breasts with Cantaloupe Salsa
Colorado Green Chili Bake