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February 15, 2014
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Group wants $200K for German market

A group looking to host a German Christmas market in Wagner Park is asking the city of Aspen to invest $200,000 for the first year of the event.

The market, scheduled to begin in December, would be modeled after Christkindlmarket Chicago, a monthlong event where Chicagoans and tourists feast on bratwurst, drink spiced wine and purchase German-made crafts.

Seeking a five-year agreement for the Aspen event, members of the Commercial Core and Lodging Commission say the initial investment would cover the cost of building removable wooden vendor booths in the park. As proposed, the city would lease the booths back to event organizers — Maren Biester and German American Services Inc. — for $1,000 per season while incurring $9,000 in annual storage costs.

The Aspen City Council will address the proposal at Tuesday’s work session.

Commission member Bill Dinsmoor, who visited with Biester at Chicago’s most recent Christkindlmarket, said that the event is an opportunity for Aspen to draw visitors it normally wouldn’t during one of the quietest periods of the offseason. If approved, he said the commission will look into partnering with dating websites to create a “Jingle Mingle” that coincides with the market.

The proposed dates for the Christkindlmarket are Nov. 21 through Jan. 7, which would include one week of load-in and load-out. Dinsmoor said he recognizes that this is a lengthy period of time for a single event in Wagner Park.

“In that regard, the city will have to make a commitment to doing something new and different,” he said. “On the other side, it has potential to address the concerns we all have about what we do if it doesn’t snow in December. Those first 18 to 20 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas week have become a very expensive time for most people to be in business.”

The Parks Department estimates an additional $33,000 for staffing and turf renovation at Wagner Park. Because the event would begin in November, parks staff also has recommended snowmaking at the park, which could cost between $20,000 and $25,000.

Following the guidelines of Colorado law, Environmental Health Department staff views the event as a permanent facility, requiring a water source that is currently not available. The estimated cost to install water lines is between $30,000 and $50,000. Event organizers also are asking the city to pay for utility costs for the event, which are approximately $3,500.

Talking with Biester, Dinsmoor learned that the Christkindlmarket is very profitable. With the purchase of a $7 boot-shaped mug, market-goers can drink gluhwein while they walk through the market. Profit for each mug is about $2, and Biester orders close to 1 million of them each year.


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The Aspen Times Updated Feb 15, 2014 02:04AM Published Feb 17, 2014 01:10PM Copyright 2014 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.