It’s barely March, and you thought you had plenty of time. Well, you snooze, you lose. The Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, scheduled to hit town June 20 through 22, sold out on Feb. 27, just 85 days after passes went on sale.
“It’s exciting,” said Christina Grdovic, senior vice president and publisher of Food & Wine magazine, via phone from her New York office. “An early sellout is nice because it gives us the luxury of planning things in advance. We just hope that everyone who wanted to come got their tickets in time.”
While Grdovic hesitates to make a sweeping generalization about the state of the national economy, she noted that this year’s sell-out, the earliest since 2007, seems to be a sign of improving economic times.
“Patterns are showing that people are starting to plan travel in advance, because that’s the way it used to be,” she said. “(The Classic) used to always sell out. Until 2007, everyone was in the frame of mind that you had to make your plans and book early. It’s that way again, and we’re prepared.”
On the local level, the Food & Wine Classic volunteer applications are ahead of last year’s pace, as well.
“Volunteer registration opened at 12 a.m. March 1 on the (Aspen Chamber Resort Association) website, and 160 people signed up by 8 a.m.,” said volunteer director Tami Solondz.
To date, 659 people have applied for a total of 610 positions on 24 committees, and Solondz expects applications to top out at nearly 1,000. Those who have been volunteers in previous years typically get first shot at returning, a benefit to all involved.
“Volunteers are a fantastic example of a perfect relationship,” Grdovic said. “They’re an army of Food & Wine ambassadors and Food & Wine experts that have been doing it for so many years. We give them something they appreciate, and they give us something we couldn’t do without. To have an event where you can walk around and ask a volunteer where to go or what their opinion is on something really adds value. You don’t get that at a lot of (other) events, so we’re lucky for that.”
Roaring Fork Valley residents interested in volunteering should check out the Food & Wine Classic volunteer application on the ACRA website (www.aspenchamber.org). Applicants will be considered and notified about potential placement.
For those determined to get a taste of the Classic, Grdovic suggests they add their names to an established wait list at, and stay in touch with, Stay Aspen Snowmass.
“Passes do sometimes come available for a variety of reasons,” she said.
She also noted that there are still some passes available for the American Express Trade Program for people in the restaurant business. And a limited number of passes will be made available soon for the American Express Platinum Program, which is a special offering for American Express Platinum Card holders.
Also, tickets to several special events offered on an a la carte basis during the Food & Wine Classic weekend will be available to the general public beginning sometime in April. Events include a celebrity-chef-driven dinner on June 21 at the Sundeck on Aspen Mountain, the Food & Wine Celebrity Chef 5K Charity Run on June 20 and the late-night Last Bite Dessert Party, hosted by Gail Simmons, on June 20 at the Hotel Jerome. For tickets and information, visit www.food andwine.com/classic.