The annual Eagle Outside Festival has long been an event that ushers in biking season in the high mountains. This year’s festival, which took over the downtown areas of sleepy Eagle, Colorado from June 1-3, brought 30 cycling and outdoor related companies, including 15 bike companies and their demo fleets, and hundreds of bike enthusiasts.

The Outside Festival started more than 10 years ago as an event to showcase the town’s extensive trail network and cycling friendly culture. It’s grown every year since, and Eagle now boasts a top-notch, intimate festival that still manages to fly under the radars of many Colorado cycling enthusiasts.

Here are a few of our favorite reasons that you should put the Eagle Outside Festival on your list next season.

1. Few lines, free entry

The Outside Festival is small compared to other bike events around Colorado, but the upside is that you can demo that Yeti you’ve had your eye on without waiting in line for half an hour and explore the area’s trails without a crowd. Most of the major bike brands are represented here, so it’s a great place to be if you’re shopping for a new ride.

Also, the Outside Festival is free to the public, meaning there are no expensive entry fees to browse the goods and take in the entertainment. Cost to demo was a small donation to the town’s open space program.

2. Plenty for ladies who shred

If you’re a lady who likes to ride, or even better, one who is just learning the ins and outs of mountain biking, you’re in luck. Rippin Chix clinics are a mainstay at the Outside Festival, and this year, nearly 90 women participated in their skills and trail clinics.

“Eagle has been one of our most popular locations year after year, and not to mention that the trails in Eagle are superb, offering incredible trail features for our singletrack camps,” said Rippin Chix owner and coach MariAnne Fifield. “Our bike camps in Eagle sold out so fast that this year we increased our offerings to seven clinics throughout the weekend and added an additional coach.”

Any rider can benefit from either the skills camp, which focuses on bike handling and body balance basics in a pop-up bike park, or the singletrack camps, which help the women take their skills onto the trail. However, the three-hour courses are geared toward beginners, and at the Outside Festival, women from the Front Range and the High Country learned some new skills and got a confidence boost on the trails. Look for Rippin Chix clinics in other locations, including Fruita, Grand Junction, Palisade, Crested Butte, Prescott, Arizona, Carson City, Nevada and Bentonville, Arkansas.

3. Local flavor and big names

The Eagle Outside Festival finds a sweet spot between showcasing the big-names in the industry while giving attendees a strong dose of local flavor. Alongside vendors like Specialized, Prana and Smith, you could also shop from a number of boutique, local vendors. Some highlights included Colorado-based Corbeaux clothing showcasing their stylish basewear, performance drink company Sword’s ginger-flavored endurance mix and Edwards-based compression sock company PODSox with their zany knee-high stockings.

Bike riding may be the main attraction, but it’d be a mistake to miss the festival’s off-beat and wonderfully entertaining contests and races. There’s a wheelie contest, foot races that incorporate milk and cookies, and the ChroMoly Chef competition, where local bike mechanics battle it out to create the ultimate Frankenbike using an assortment of old parts.

4. Craft beer and live music

The party isn’t over when vendors close down for the evening. After a day of riding, festival attendees can head over to Eagle’s Broadway Street area for the town’s other big bash, the annual Bonfire Block Party. The Party features a weekend of craft beer from Bonfire Brewing and live music. This year’s showcase music included Galactic, Sam Bush and Dirty Dozen Brass Brand.

There’s a lot to love about this bike-obsessed locale, from its 100-plus miles of singletrack to its small-town feel, and the Eagle Outside Festival is one way to discover it all.