During the first weekend of October, elk in Estes Park will be regaled, imitated, watched and otherwise celebrated during the community's annual two-day Elk Fest. This festival celebrates the "wapiti," the American elk that is native here. The Elk Fest, now in its 12th year, highlights most of the facets of human interaction with the animals.

Bond Park at the intersection of MacGregor and Elkhorn (Estes Park's main street) Avenues will be festival headquarters from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both Saturday, October 2 and Sunday, Oct. 3.

The event features bugling contests, educational areas, live wolves and raptors, elk seminars, music by Brad and Kathy Fitch, a Mountain Man Rendezvous, Native American storytelling and music and elk-viewing bus tours.

There also will be vendors displaying artwork, handmade elk-ivory jewelry, and other elk related merchandise. Elk cuisine and other food will be available.

There is no charge for the festival, but there are fees for contestants in the bugling contests and for the elk viewing bus tours.

Festival Events

Bugling Contest
At 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 3 there is a contest to see who can sound most like an elk bugling. Amateurs and professionals alike (there are contest classifications for adults and youth classes) are invited to try imitating the haunting call heard during the elk rut. Entrants can use a diaphragm, a horn or just vocal chords.

Mountain Man Rendezvous
Nine camps of mountain men from all over the country will gather to sell and to demonstrate their skills.

Educational Areas
In this area, individuals will be able to see elk antlers up close. Representatives from the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program will be on hand with some of their magnificent rescued birds and there also will be representatives from the organization of Wolfwood Adoption and Rescue, an organization headquartered in Ignacio, CO.

Native American Music & Storytelling
Native Americans were the first visitors to the Estes Park area, and they join in celebrating the Elk that roam the valley and Rocky Mountain National Park.

Speakers from the Colorado Division of Wildlife and Rocky Mountain National Park will present seminars over the weekend on Elk Management and Biology, and the Breeding Season - the Rut. Brian Soliday, president of the Colorado Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and his 12-year-old daughter, Cayssa, will present a fascinating new program at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3. Their presentation is titled "Elk Communication; What Do Those Sounds Really Mean?"

Elk Viewing Bus Tours
This is the easiest way to view elk around the Estes Valley. Afternoon tours from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday and from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday will depart on the hour from Bond Park, taking people to the best places to view and hear the elk. An expert guide will accompany each tour to explain what viewers are looking at, and hearing, and answer questions. Tours depart Fees are $5 for those over 3 years of age.

For additional information about the event contact the Estes Park Events Office at 970-586-6104.