GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Fruita hasn't always been a mountain bike destination. Once a sleepy farming community in western Colorado, it's grown into a top-tier recreation hotspot over the last 18 years. And the Fruita Fat Tire Festival has had a lot to do with its metamorphosis.Set for April 25-28, this free, downtown Fruita event is "a great industry festival," organizer Mike Heaston said.Activities, in fact, kicked off yesterday (April 25) with live music, vendors, beer, skills camps, demo opportunities, and on-hand bike experts available through Saturday evening. Sunday, April 28, will host "one last ride," plus a 3-5 p.m. coffee social at Over the Edge Sports (a well-known Fruita bike shop). Then the "18 Hours of Fruita" bike race kicks off next Friday, May 3. This event is sold out, according to the website."The best change (to the festival) in recent years is just how established the event is and how smoothly everything works," event founder Troy Rarick said. "People know the plan, we never change it much; good bands, great beer, cool expo and amazing mountain biking, a pretty proven combo."According to Heaston, this festival first began with its vision coming from Rarick, founder of Over the Edge Sports in Fruita."He saw the potential for trails in the area, and he's the instigator for getting mountain bike trails started in the Grand Valley," Heaston said. "He did it to bring people here and to promote his store."The Fruita Fat Tire Festival additionally became the "unofficial start to mountain bike season in Colorado," Heaston added.Organizers currently expect up to 1,500 folks at this year's fest, with pre-registered VIP pass holders representing 22 states, along with people from Canada and Switzerland.For more information and a complete calendar of events, visit www.fruitamountainbike.com.