Labor Day Weekend in the 'Boat. It’s that last little vestige of summer, before backpacks and No. 2 pencils become more a part of our daily routine than sunscreen and river tubing.

And Labor Day Weekend usually means one thing to this adventurous four-some: Wild West Air Fest. Every year we head over to Steamboat’s Bob Adams Airport for some historic thrill rides and a celebration of flight. We love to “hangar” out in the kids’ “wing” (yes, all puns intended!). Inside this dedicated kid zone airplane hangar, we get to make flying machines out of sweet tarts and rubber bands, paper and wooden airplanes zoom around the room and computer simulators give kids a few moments in the virtual pilot’s seat.


Outside the hangar, we love to watch the radio controlled model airplanes, see the mini parachutes drop their prizes from above like a flying piñata and then we cheer on the real life sky divers as they drop 10,000 ft. and sail softly to the ground.

We peruse the vintage war birds – the functional museums that pay homage to the many who have served our country. And we always book a helicopter tour of the valley. You can sign up for reservations right on the spot and then get a bird’s eye view of the Yampa Valley that you won’t soon forget. In fact, our kids remember and beg for the helicopter ride every year.

New this year, will be a full hour of aerobatic excitement featuring high-flying maneuvers from the renegades, aerobatic competition champion Don Nelson in his Sukhoi, and famed pilot Dagmar Kress performing in a Pitts on both Saturday and Sunday at the Wild West Air Fest. Kress is a national unlimited aerobatic champion and a former member of the German acrobatic flying team. You won’t want to miss this dazzling display in the skies over the Steamboat Springs Airport.  I have no idea how to say that’s going to be really cool in German, but we’ll be cheering on these acro-flyers in every language.

And when we aren’t in the flight zone, we’re usually hitting the pavement of downtown Steamboat. The Saturday morning Farmers Market is a family favorite, with handmade wares, live music, face painting and plenty of fixins for Labor Day Weekend BBQs.

On Sunday, Mainstreet Steamboat hosts the annual Chuckwagon Chili Challenge. So if your Labor Day needs heating up, just head on over to the chili tent downtown for tastings from mild to firehouse spicy. Stock up on cornbread and country music before hitting the streets for the last sidewalk sale of the summer.

And after you’re done charging up your credit card with the screaming deals, head over to the rodeo arena for a different kind of “charge”... Sunday night of Labor Day Weekend is the PBR Bull Bash at the Romick Rodeo arena.

These cowboys mean business as 40 pro bull riders compete for a hefty purse.

Monday is for sleeping in and resting up and taking one last hike, bike ride or dip in the river before homework starts rolling in. We say goodbye to yet another carefree Steamboat summer and hello to a gorgeous and colorful September.