The Rico Winter Carnival

 The Rico Winter Carnival takes place Saturday and Sunday with events that include a snowman-building contest, pick-up hockey, Nordic skiing and a chili potluck, as well as a group fat bike ride like this one, which took place at last year’s event. (Courtesy photo)

The outdoor recreation scene of Telluride’s neighbor to the south will be celebrated this weekend at the Rico Winter Carnival, which takes place Saturday and Sunday with winter sports, a snowman-making contest, potluck chili dinner, live music and more.

“The primary goal of the carnival is just to have a good time, but certainly the secondary goal is to showcase our winter recreation program,” Rico Town Manager Kari Distefano said. “Rico obviously gets overshadowed by Telluride in that regard, but we do have a vibrant recreation community that supports cross-country skiing, fat biking and ice skating.”

On Saturday, the program of events kicks off with yoga at 9:30 a.m. at Rico Town Hall, followed by pick-up hockey for adults and kids in Rico Town Park, starting at 10 a.m.

Next up is a group fat bike ride organized by the Rico Trails Alliance (RTA). The outing begins at 11 a.m., but RTA Board Facilitator Nicole Pieterse, who is also the acting Rico mayor, suggested riders arrive early in order to nab a demo fat bike.

“Demo bikes will be donated by Box Canyon Bicycles and Bootdoctors on a first-come first-served basis,” she said. “The route is located entirely on Rico’s groomed fat bike trails and will be moderate to intermediate with more challenging options and a beverage station partway through the ride. Maps will be handed out the day of and are posted along with other information on RTA’s website.”

Tired but hungry hockey players and fat bike riders can then head to the shelter in Rico Town Park, behind the elementary school, for a potluck chili dinner, starting at 4 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to bring their favorite chili dish, along with their own bowls and utensils.

Saturday’s activities finish up with live music — at the Enterprise Bar & Grill from 7-9 p.m. — by Reeder & Spencer, a Durango-based guitar- and mandolin-playing duo known for their vocal harmonies and ability to adapt cover tunes from the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s for appreciative audiences around the Four Corners.

“In addition to the Enterprise Bar & Grill, we have the Prospector, which has delicious food and offers a quieter venue,” Distefano said of other dining options in Rico. “Again, a great place for a relaxing, high-quality meal.”

On Sunday, the snowman-building contestants have to finish their snowmen by 4 p.m. before the winners are announced at 5 p.m. at the Enterprise.

Also Sunday, there is more pick-up hockey, this time at 10:30 a.m., followed by cross-country skiing at 11 a.m., including lessons and touring for adults, as well as a kids’ tour, according to Distefano, who added that anyone needing gear can contact her at 970-901-3420.

Nordic skiing instructor Ashley Boling said he is looking forward to the event.

“This will be my second year in a row going to Rico for the Winter Carnival,” Boling said. “I like to instruct Nordic skiing — I do so at the Telluride Nordic Center. I will be taking some rental classic ski equipment from the center and instructing adults and children. We’ll spend an hour or so learning to classic ski and then touring a bit of the trails in Rico.”

He added, “I think this is a fun weekend of events in Rico, which showcases the many fun outdoor things to do in our sister town to the south.”

For her part, Distefano pointed out that as Rico, which voted in November to join the San Miguel Authority for Regional Transportation, works to build its recreation-based economy, she hopes people from Telluride and neighboring communities will make the short drive down Highway 145 and see all that the town has to offer.

“The carnival is not just for Rico residents,” she said. “We strongly encourage anyone who wants to come, regardless of where they live, to participate. If people want a break from the hyper-activity of Telluride after the holidays, Rico is a good alternative.”

For more information, visit the Town of Rico’s website at ricocolorado.gov or the Rico Trails Alliance website at ricotrailsalliance.org.