Funny Fest Coming to Southern Colorado

Denver comedian Sam Tallent is a headliner and festival host at the Southwest Chief Bicycle and Comedy Festival coming to Trinidad May 2-5. Photo courtesy @samtallent instagram page.

Denver comedian Sam Tallent is a headliner and festival host at the Southwest Chief Bicycle and Comedy Festival coming to Trinidad May 2-5. Photo courtesy @samtallent instagram page.

New Comedy, Cycling Festival Set in Trinidad

By Steve Graham

Wally Wallace has a creative lure to attract visitors to his new hometown in southern Colorado: jokes!

The inaugural Southwest Chief Bicycle and Comedy Festival is designed to showcase both local and national comics, and promote the town of Trinidad to comedy fans and cyclists from Denver, Colorado Springs and beyond. It runs from May 2 to 5 at several venues around the southeast Colorado town.

“The main purpose of this whole entire thing is to put the town on display and show (festivalgoers) that it’s a town that they’ve been overlooking,” Wallace said.

He admits that he even overlooked the town, but stopped in Trinidad last year on a marketing trip for Denver’s Sexpot Comedy Company, which he has managed for several years. He wasn’t expecting much.

“It’s got a little bit of a recessed economy, and a lot of people only know it for the sex change stuff,” he said (Trinidad was once best known as the home of a prominent gender reassignment surgeon).

Wallace happily found some affordable real estate in a town enjoying a downtown revival and new outdoor opportunities. He said Trinidad reminds him of Durango and Telluride, but it lacks the cachet of those other mountain destinations, so he is hoping to turn the town into the next big festival draw.

The town is also on two interesting routes. The festival is named for the Amtrak line that stops in Trinidad at the midpoint between the comedy meccas of Los Angeles and Chicago. He bought train tickets for 21 comedians coming from those cities to meet in Trinidad for the festival. Eventually, he hopes to incorporate a rolling comedy show on the Amtrak line but couldn’t work it out for this year’s edition.

The town is also about halfway between Albuquerque, a major film production hub, and Denver, which Wallace described as “the best mid-sized comedy city in the country.”

Several comedians from Denver and many other cities will perform stand-up sets and record podcasts at the festival, but Wallace has some other tricks up his sleeve as well.

The Saturday afternoon lineup includes the “Late Late Breakfast” show, which has been running for a while in Chicago and Los Angeles. Comedians each get five-minute sets, but they are required to do other tasks during their sets, such as arm-wrestling audience volunteers.

“It might be the hardest I have laughed at anything,” Wallace said of a Chicago set he witnessed. “They make it a really wild time and it’s impossible to not enjoy what’s going on.”

Wallace also wanted to incorporate some two-wheeled recreation.

“As soon as I came to town, I met some of the people into the biking culture,” he said. 

They showed him some of the trails and dirt roads around town, and helped him plan a 72-mile gravel grinder ride during the festival on Saturday, May 4. He also invites festival attendees to borrow commuter bicycles from a new bike share company in town, though he warns that no bike shops in town currently rent road bikes or mountain bikes, so bring your own wheels for the longer rides.