NEW CASTLE, Colorado - Steamy. That's how organizers of the Burning Mountain Festival have billed the 40th annual event taking place Friday and Saturday at Burning Mountain Park in downtown New Castle.According to the New Castle Chamber of Commerce, the long-running festival was named for the underground coal mines that still smolder inside the nearby hillsides. In its beginnings, the Burning Mountain Festival was most commonly referred to as the Burning Mountain Days."People still call it that," says Ashlee Alexander, a New Castle Chamber of Commerce administrative assistant planning the event for the first time this year. Alexander grew up in New Castle and said she has been coming to the community event for many years."The Burning Mountain Festival offers great community fun for all ages," she said. "It's just one of those great small-town festivals people really enjoy."The festival is a big draw for families, said Alexander, as there is a wide variety of events, contests, and music for adults, teens and kids."We have all kinds of great things going on this weekend," she said. "We have four bands playing over the weekend, including Fifty/50, Leveraction, Derringer, and the Missing Link Band. We are also having a horseshoe tournament, pie eating contest, wood-splitting competition and talent showcase."Always a favorite for spectators and participants, the pie eating contest is straight out of a Mark Twain novel."The pie eating contest is fun, and it's funny to watch, even if you're not participating," Alexander said. The contest features 18 locally made pies of all flavors donated from Village Inn."We originally asked them for 10 pies, but Village Inn stepped up with 18," Alexander said. "All of our sponsors have been so great."The wood-splitting competition can get heated, Alexander said. Both genders are invited to compete in this test of firewood-chopping prowess."It's a newer addition to the festival," she said. "It's very popular and is also a lot of fun. There are a lot of the guys from the area who really get into it."Alexander said the biggest draw to the Burning Mountain Festival is the focus on family."It's a weekend of family fun," she said. "We try and have something at the festival for everyone, young and old alike. It really instills a sense of family."The Burning Mountain Festival hosts seven food vendors and 14 different craft vendors, Alexander said. "We just try and have something fun for people. We just want people to come out, bring their families and enjoy the shopping and kids amusements, like the bouncy house," she said. The festival features four Western Slope bands, set to play rock and country hits so the crowd can get up and dance. "All of our bands are really, really talented," Alexander said. "We have some great country and rock bands in the area, so we want to showcase them." With warm weather in the forecast, the annual beer garden will also be open Friday night and Saturday for the adults to cool off with an ice-cold beverage. Visit www.burningmountainfestival. com for more information.
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