Roger Marolt
Columnist
Snowmass Village, CO, Colorado

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April 16, 2013
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Roger Marolt: Festival should put money in locals' pockets

SNOWMASS VILLAGE - Just so you know, I enjoy doing research. I love to investigate. I am really good at accumulating and analyzing data. But, everybody needs a break. That's why I became a newspaper opinion columnist. I'm telling you this because I have absolutely no information to support what I am about to write. Save your breath and some ink - I know nothing.

This is about the Chili Pepper and Brew Fest (I think that's the name of it) that we host every fall (I believe that's when it is) here in Snowmass Village (is Town Park really in Snowmass Village, and if so, why isn't it called Village Park?). This is a highly popular annual event that I have never attended and have very little interest in attending in the future. It's nothing personal. I just believe beer and chili are best enjoyed on the couch in front of a football game on a drizzly fall afternoon rather than at the end of a long line of people in front of a rock band on a fall afternoon when I could be watching football. ... Wait a minute. It actually is in June, isn't it? Chili never tastes good in June.

Be that as it may, I thought it was a dumb idea to move the festival from the Village Mall, where it has been since its inception when it was drummed up to drum up some extra business for local shop owners and restaurateurs at a time of year when business slows from a crawl during the summer to a complete halt in the fall in a location where profits have traditionally gone to die, to staging it at Town Park where master-planning has traditionally gone to die. It appeared to me that the idea was to change its purpose from trying to help local businesses to simply making the festival bigger and moving it closer to Aspen. The only consolation for people relying on making a living from businesses in the mall is that they can now take that weekend off.

That will give them the opportunity to carry on the long-standing tradition in Snowmass Village of local people working at our town's special events. It's kind of cool. Even though lots of it is "volunteer" work, the "volunteers" are usually helping out in capacities that allow them to enjoy the events, see lots of friends and earn tips or a token wage. Jazz Aspen Snowmass, the Thursday night summer concert series, Wednesday rodeos and the Chili Pepper and Brew Fest are prime examples. I was thinking that all the locals who would otherwise be busy working at the mall are, at least, free to head down to Village Park that weekend and make up for lost wages by working at the relocated event. It's better than nothing.

Now for the remuneration a columnist is so highly invested in: rumor. If only groceries could be bought with it, I would be a wealthy man. Rumor has it that the chili and brew festival has been contracted out to an outfit out of somewhere other than here. OK. I can be convinced of the logic there - maybe. I prefer that we award contracts on profitable special events locally when we can. After all, the main reason we host and promote around here is to raise the quality of life for the people who live in Snowmass Village. The only reason to try to make visitors happy is to ultimately make us happy, right? But if something we're doing can be done better with the aid of an expert from out of town, I can see how that can be better for all of us.

What is troubling about the latest village rumor is that the outside help isn't going to end with an outside expert. Apparently the outside expert we have hired to run the show is going to bring in a labor force from out of town, too. That doesn't seem right. It sounds like a lot of revenue being produced here and then hauled out of town in strangers' wallets. We might be able to save ourselves a bunch of trouble simply by hosting this event wherever this outside work force is coming from. The way it is now, I feel kind of used.

Now it's time for our elected officials to do their jobs. They need to track this rumor down and find out if it's true. If it is, they need to figure out how to turn it into a false one - and quickly.

Roger Marolt hopes that all locals can participate, or not, in the chili and brew festival in any way they want. Contact him at roger@maroltllp.com.


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The Aspen Times Updated Apr 16, 2013 04:35PM Published Apr 16, 2013 04:33PM Copyright 2013 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.