SNOWMASS VILLAGE - With approval from the Snowmass Village Town Council, the Snowmass Chili Pepper and Brew Fest will move down to Town Park this summer.
The council on Feb. 4 also approved camping for as many as 300 people on town property during the event, which has been rebranded as the Snowmass Mammoth Festival. The marketing board has hired Steve Gumble Productions, which produces the Telluride Blues and Brews Festival, to manage the event and make some changes.
The biggest change is the move from the mall and Fanny Hill to the Snowmass Village Recreation Center soccer field, with camping on the baseball field.
Courtney McClary, director of operations at Steve Gumble Productions, said the space has more to offer.
"As far as camping, the lodging numbers we think will grow," McClary said. "It's an introductory rate. It gets them here."
"We're targeting a younger demographic to kind of grow them with the region," said Steve Gumble Productions marketing director Bill Kight about camping.
When introducing the agenda item, Town Manager Russ Forrest named underwhelming lodging numbers during the chili and beer festival as an impetus for making some changes to draw more people from outside the area to attend.
One concern repeated by council members was the impact to retail and lodging by moving the event away from the commercial cores and allowing camping.
"It's a concern for council: Are we hurting ourselves by pushing it all down the hill and allowing camping?" Mayor Bill Boineau said.
"It's gotten to the point where it's not a quality experience if you're jammed on the mall," said Susan Hamley, director of Snowmass Tourism. "We're at the cusp here of the next step. Going down to nice, flat land is a great experience for our guests, chili cooks, brewers. The more people we have staying here, the more people we have going to eat, shop while the music's not going on."
Kight said staging other events in the commercial cores is the production company's goal.
"For me it's part of making great events part of our summer strategy," said Fred Brodsky, marketing board member and Snowmass Tourism group sales director. Brodsky mentioned that for Telluride, summer revenue is equal to or higher than winter because of the city's festivals.
Kight said campers eventually become hotel guests as they continue to return to the festival.
The event will still involve chili and beer tastings, but it also will have a bigger music element, with nine or more bands performing throughout the two days. Tickets will be slightly higher than in years past, at $35 for Friday, $55 for Saturday or $80 for a two-day pass. Camping passes will be $25.
Most public comments made were positive about the event.
"I think we're going to get greater (return on investment) by pushing that longer stay in the summer," said Brian Mordecai, of Viceroy Snowmass, speaking of appealing to guests beyond the Roaring Fork Valley.
Tim Johnson, of Westin Snowmass, said at first he was hesitant about the festival moving.
"The thing I'm most excited about is these folks," he said, speaking of Steve Gumble Productions. "We should be tied to that."
Evan Cree, of Blazing Adventures, which has its office on the mall, said his company supported "where this festival is going."
"I'm sure there's concern about pulling the festival away from the mall," Cree said. "I don't see that being an issue. ... We really need to reinvigorate the festival."
Reed Lewis, longtime resident and owner of Daly Bottle Shop on the mall, raised a point about changing the name of the festival.
"My biggest thing is just losing the 'brew' out of it," he said. "If you Google like 'mammoth fest,' Mammoth, Calif., is the first thing that pops in this skier's head."
Lewis also advocated ensuring that the event still garners support from a local crowd. He also said events that take place away from the mall or in Base Village don't send many shoppers his way.
"If there's some way to incorporate" the mall, that would be helpful, Lewis said.