| AspenTimes.com

A better experience: Snowmass Clinic staff looks forward to offering more out of new facility

In January, the Snowmass Clinic is set to move into a new and improved space its staff has been awaiting for over a decade.

That space, an over 6,000-foot area in the east One Snowmass building in Base Village, will allow Snowmass clinicians to offer patients more privacy, improved services and better overall care in a more accessible location.

On a recent afternoon at the clinic’s current Village Mall location, just below the Venga Venga restaurant, Dr. Jon Gibans, medical director of the Snowmass Clinic, and Kelly Hansen, the clinic’s office manager, talked about how they’ve done their best to make the former kids activity center work as a medical facility for over 12 years.

But now after over 25 years working with the Snowmass Clinic, which was founded in the 1970s and has moved locations a few times since, the two longtime staff members are about to help debut a modern, state-of-the-art facility they both helped design to better meet the needs of their team and their patients.

“After all of these years to have this come to fruition is really exciting,” Gibans said of the new Snowmass clinic.

“We’re really excited as the people who work here, but are also excited to hopefully provide a more accessible, private and just better experience for our patients,” Hansen added.

An outpatient branch of Aspen Valley Hospital, the Snowmass Clinic offers year-round physical therapy, acute illness and injury care with help from about 20 staff members, including four clinicians trained in emergency medicine.

Clinic staff usually see over 2,000 patients in a typical winter season, clinic data show, which Gibans said is often more than the other Aspen-Snowmass ski areas combined. And in June, the clinic moved to operating full-time to accommodate the increase in summer village activities, like mountain biking, and in Snowmass visitors, staff said, treating more than 600 patients over the season.

Gibans and Hansen said the ski injuries, peak injuries, altitude illness and other acute conditions staff see every day can make for an interesting and challenging workplace, but that their team enjoys interacting with the people who come in from the village and from all over the world.

“We really work with a team mentality. When you walk in the door we all work together, the hierarchy that you always need sort of goes out the door in the sense that there are no egos,” Hansen said. “Everybody just really enjoys everybody here.”

This collaborative atmosphere is partially what’s kept both Gibans and Hansen with the clinic for so long, and both said they hope to offer even better team-based services at the new Base Village clinic.

The new roughly $3 million home will be more centralized and improved through features like a triage room; physical therapy gym and treatment spaces; a procedure room for acute injuries; a special entrance for ski patrol to bring in injured patients and improved access for ambulances; and seven fully-private patient rooms, as previously reported.

Both Gibans and Hansen feel that because Snowmass often sees more acute injuries and illness than the other local ski areas, which they believe is due to the greater average numbers of people at Snowmass, it is especially important to have a community clinic that can cut the cost of ambulance transport and an emergency room visit, and get people the help they need sooner.

“We hope we can help people when they have an acute illness or problem and ensure they can be seen quickly and efficiently and not have to wait like they would at a typical doctor’s office,” Gibans said. “Needless to say I think we have the best staff in the world.”

According to Elaine Gerson, chief transformation officer and administrator of ambulatory clinics for AVH, the new, customized Snowmass Clinic is a part of the hospital’s larger efforts to establish a network of care in the Aspen area.

Gerson said talks of moving the location of the current Snowmass clinic have been in the works for about six years, and that she sees Base Village as the ideal location for locals and visitors to access the year-round, quasi-urgent care center.

“We’re super excited about the clinic, which will help provide high-quality care through a lower-cost alternative to the hospital emergency room,” Gerson said. “Accessibility and affordability are key, and a lot of people came together to make this dream a reality.”

The Snowmass Clinic will continue to operate at its Village Mall location, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day, until its move to Base Village in January.


Hundreds turnout for The Collective’s opening weekend

On Dec. 7, over 1,000 locals and visitors poured into The Collective in Snowmass Base Village to fully experience the community space for the first time.

Previously known as Building 6, The Collective served as a shell to test out various affordable programming and activities last season, in hopes that the “best of the best” would move into the completed build-out.

One year, a few short speeches and a snip of a large, red ribbon stretched across the finished Base Village building later, the public was invited to experience a free sample of what the community space will offer.

“The opening weekend went so great, we heard a lot of feedback that people were excited to come and experience something new in Snowmass,” said Sara Halferty, curator for The Collective. “We’re all really happy with how it went.”

From 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Dec. 7, locals and visitors enjoyed a free dinner at mix6 — The Collective’s fast-casual nutritarian eatery by longtime local chef Martin Oswald — drinks at the moxiBar, and experienced the immersive art and gaming options in the downstairs game lounge.

Families faced off at the eight-person fusbol table, kids and adults swam through the Ziegler Reservoir-inspired ball pool, and many tried to imprint their bodies onto a life-sized, 3D pin art frame.

“I think this place is sick, it’s so cool,” said Michael Quintanilla, 14, as he set up the lounge’s pool table for a game with his friends.

“I love all of the graffiti, the art and the pool balls,” Sheldon Sims, 14, added. “I’ve seen the building from the outside and heard some things about it from my aunt who is the bar manager, but I never knew it was going to be like this. It’s amazing.”

While some kids and adults played in the downstairs lounge Dec. 7, a seemingly never-ending line for the mix6 dinner wound around the top floor for several hours as people waited to pick four or six foods from 12 options, including broccoli, mac and cheese, sauteed greens, tofu, chicken, steak and squash.

Martin Oswald and his staff served over 1,000 people Dec. 7 and 60 people Dec. 8 at the first-ever mix6 brunch. Oswald said he felt it was the most successful restaurant opening he’s ever had.

“There was so much collective effort that went into this unlike other towns I’ve been in,” Oswald said of The Collective and all its offerings Dec. 7, highlighting the efforts of town government, tourism, Snowmass Base Village developers and the building’s contractors.

“A lot of people have grand visions and great ideas but very few people manage to follow through. Here, the community really came together and persistence paid off.”

As previously reported, the town of Snowmass Village owns The Collective building and leases it to East West Partners to manage for the community.

And for East West Partners, who oversaw the completion of The Collective and will coordinate its programming moving forward, the finished building wouldn’t have been made possible without the town’s collaboration.

“I’m really excited to get this open, a lot of work by a lot of people was put in to get it here,” said Charlie Singer, East West Partners project manager of The Collective opening. “This building is for the community and was designed for everyone. … Our hope is that anyone in the Roaring Fork Valley will have a reason to want to come here.”

While the opening weekend of the completed The Collective was deemed a success, the building and its offerings aren’t quite finished evolving, according to Halferty.

She said she hopes to keep the space truly rooted in the community by keeping dialogue for improvement and ideas open with locals and visitors, and encouraged people to reach out with their feedback.

“We would love to hear from the community about what they want to see at The Collective,” Halferty said.

For now, Halferty and Dawn Blasberg, plaza and events manager for Base Village and The Collective, are preparing for the Snowmass Casino Night on Friday, a benefit for the Little Red School House, for the Snowmassive Celebration from Friday through Saturday in Base Village, which recognizes the opening of both the community building and the One Snowmass buildings, coinciding with Aspen Skiing Company’s Passapalooza weekend.

A calendar of more regular programming and events scheduled at The Collective can be found at thecollectivesnowmass.com, and the building is now open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.


Village Voices: Meet Sherry Flack, owner of Snowmass’ Local Rebels boutique

For Kansas-native Sherry Flack, Aspen-Snowmass has been the ideal place to run a retail business.

After working at retail stores to pay her way through college, Flack said she realized fashion and buying merchandise was her passion and partnered with a few Denver friends to open up a store in the old Aspen A-frames in the 1970s.

“I liked the idea of running a store in a more laid back, low-key, historic resort town that wasn’t as touristy as the others,” Flack said.

Six local retail enterprises and one store consolidation later, Flack’s Local Rebels boutique on the Snowmass Village Mall remains as her longest running business and has aimed to give shoppers a taste of the town’s vibe for over 40 years.

“My theme is the local look, so when people come in and buy something they can wear it out and blend right in,” Flack said.

On a recent afternoon in Local Rebels, Flack pointed out the colorful, eclectic clothing items and locally crafted jewelry and artwork on display in designated areas of her shop.

She said she has a loyal Snowmass, Aspen and Basalt customer base, but also a visitor following, as she is one of the only village stores that boasts a children’s section, wide selection of women’s blue jeans and unique gift options all in one place.

Kathryn Lobenherz, who has worked for Flack for roughly six years, said she feels the store is run by a great group of women and has a lot to offer for both locals and visitors.

“I love to work in this store, you meet people from all over the world,” Lobenherz said. “It’s a really fun boutique with a wide range of unique products, and Sherry offers a lot of really beautiful clothing.”

Flack said she hopes to continue the longtime success of her store in Snowmass, and claims that success is mainly due to her employees and the great support of the village community.

“I like the Snowmass vibe, it’s not as much of a designer or name-brand focused experience,” Flack said. “I feel really proud to have local support and am so grateful to the community.”


Not your dad’s art gallery: Straight Line Studio to host first art show in new One Snowmass space

Local artists Kelly Peters and Teal Wilson have joined forces to launch the Straight Line Studio, a gallery and experimental space located in Snowmass Base Village.

Their new gallery opens in the west One Snowmass building Friday with their inaugural show, “First Tracks,” featuring paintings by Peters and woodcut prints by Wilson.

Beyond hanging work on their walls, these artists-gallerists envision a diverse range of events and activities. They plan to use a portion of the space for making their own work, but also to periodically devote the entire gallery to workshops and classes in artistic technique.

This mix of uses reflects their desire to move beyond the traditional gallery model and actively support the arts community. Straight Line, said Wilson over a coffee at the nearby Crepe Shack, will be a gathering place for artists and those who understand that a vital arts scene is critical to the success of the new Snowmass. She sees friends and visitors dropping by after skiing for a glass of wine, perhaps sitting around an outdoor table in good weather, and making social and cultural connections.

“Straight Line is looking to up the energy in Snowmass Base Village and create a community space, to create a space where art is accessible and where artists can show work in the Roaring Fork Valley,” Peters said.

For more information about the new gallery space, visit its website at www.straightlinestudiollc.com.

S’mass History: Women’s sports clinic, 1979

On Dec. 6, 1979, an article ran in The Aspen Times about Colorado Women’s Sports, an organization based in Boulder, and a workshop it was going to conduct in the area called “Exploring Sports and Sports Related Careers.”

The article stated that “even in Aspen, many women are intimidated by the fact that there are such good athletes around and one heavy-duty sports world. There’s no reason they have to be locked into non-exploring. On a level that’s comfortable for them, we hope those people will explore their sports potential just as much as we want to encourage the already sports-minded woman to explore a sports-related career.

“The program on Dec. 15 will include speakers from Colorado Women’s Sports, and from the Aspen ski patrol, a film called ‘Making It Happen’, and time for discussions and questions. Participants will be invited to a continental breakfast, a slide presentation and skiing at Snowmass the next day.”

Roger Marolt: Taking time to smell the ski wax

I read the news about vaping and all the terrible stuff they are learning about that addictive habit and I get more worried by the minute.

I don’t understand what the substance is that people load electric pipes with and then shock the stuff into fog so they can inhale it for a nicotine rush, but I’ll bet it’s not as bad a ski wax.

That is why I’m worried. Don’t get me wrong, I am deeply concerned about kids getting hooked on Juul and other vaping products sort of disguised as smoked candy, but it does not appear that it is as bad as smoking. I mean we’re all good with pot because we say it’s not as bad as alcohol, right? I see this as the same difference.

Also, if they ever do figure out that vaping is worse than smoking, kids can easily transition to cigarettes, which are cheaper and don’t hide any surprises about tobacco’s evils. God help us.

Getting back on track, I am suddenly horrified at the volume of burnt wax I have inhaled over my lifetime. It struck me for the first time the other evening when I was tuning my skis. “Why would anyone do that?” you ask. Well, I know I can’t do as good of a job of squaring up my edges and flattening my bases as the modern, computerized ski tuning machines do, but I like taking my skis’ performance into my own hands as a way to relax and anticipate the turns that await. After all, making the skis turn is what is satisfying about the sport we love, and fixing up your own skis is just another element of that process.

Hot waxing is the final step in performing a good tune. Repairing gouges in the bases can be arduous. Flattening the bases with a 12-inch mill bastard file is time consuming. The paradox of beveling an edge while keeping it square tests your geometric spatial awareness as much as your hand-eye coordination. When you get all of this accomplished and can peel tiny curls of fingernail off as you test the sharpness of your edges at various points along the ski’s length, at long last you arrive at the point where you get to relax and melt a bead of wax over the bottoms of your skis and then glide a hot iron back and forth over it until it is absorbed into the P-Tex. This final step is to ski tuning what Savasana is to a two-hour session of hot yoga. Heaven!

The problem is with the smell of burning ski wax, and not limited to the floro-hydrocarbons in it. To the uninitiated, the vapors from hot wax are likely to be as bitter smelling as the aromas of brewing coffee are to a person who habitually gets their caffeine fix from Diet Coke. It is an acquired smell. It is all about the association and not the actual scent of rapidly oxidized, chemically enhanced paraffin.

To compound the pleasurable sensation, it is a common practice to have a sound system on a ski tuning bench that is cranked up for adrenaline-inducing re-plays of your favorite music. It is whistling while you work on steroids. It can get so intense that the smoke from the waxing iron conjures images of the costumed instrumental warriors of the band KISS emerging onto the stage from behind a bank of dry-iced, laser light-colored fog.

OK, maybe that’s taking the analogy too far, but you get what I’m saying.

I know I am not completely alone in this existential experience. Every member of my family loves the smell of the garage after I finish tuning skis. When we have to leave the house, we open the garage door, back out quickly and close the door immediately to preserve the aroma. I’m telling you, it smells better than the oil-gas smoke from a weed whacker!

I don’t know how much wax I have inhaled since the day in seventh grade when our band instructor taught us how to tune skis in the science room as part of our regular Friday afternoon exploration program. Nor do I know where most of it has accumulated, in my lungs or brain. It may only be wishful thinking that the most dangerous particles clung to my nose hairs and became harmless boogers perhaps to be recycled one day and used on rental skis, maybe in Canada.

At any rate, I suppose the damage has been done and, in spite of that distinct possibility, I have no intention of quitting the habit of tuning my own skis. I love it too much. Incidentally, did you know it costs about $80 to get them done in a ski shop?

Roger Marolt likes sharp ski edges even at the possible cost of dulled senses. Email him at roger@maroltllp.com.

Snowmass Center talks continue, public weighs in

Town Council continued discussing the height, density and viewplanes of the proposed Snowmass Center redevelopment project Dec. 9.

But after an already two-hour long special meeting, which included discussion with JAS about the long-term sustainability of the Labor Day Experience in Snowmass, the discussion was kept to a minimum.

At the Dec. 2 regular meeting, council toured the Snowmass Center with Design Workshop staff to see the proposed placement and heights of the 11-building center redevelopment.

Staff emphasized the variety of the building heights during the tour, noting there will be one-, two-, three- and four-story structures, and that the goal to anchor the center’s main street views on Mount Daly.

These same points were highlighted at the Dec. 9 special meeting in a presentation by Richard Shaw of Design Workshop, but with more in-depth detail on the overall massing and density of the project.

The presentation focused on the variances to town zoning and development regulations being requested by the applicant, including exceeding the maximum building height of 38 feet, a small encroachment on areas with 30% grade slope, more than two times the free-market residential units prescribed for the center, and less parking than required.

Shaw mostly touched on the height, slope and build-out variances of the project Dec. 9, along with the strong focus of developers to both create new viewplanes and preserve existing ones.

He also talked about the shadow studies of the proposed center redevelopment, as requested by council, which show that the new center would get a lot of sun but that about 6,000 square feet of snowmelt on loading docks, the subterranean parking ramp and sidewalks would be needed to ensure pedestrian safety.

Town Council made a few brief comments about the presentation, bringing up recurring concerns with height and density, but moved to continue a more fleshed out discussion at its Jan. 6 meeting.

But because the Snowmass Center discussion started at the Dec. 9 meeting’s two-hour mark, council took public comment before the presentation and discussion versus after, setting the stage for the night’s public hearing and council’s deeper dive into the project moving forward.

All three of the village residents who gave public comment voiced their overall approval of the center redevelopment, which they see as key to increasing the vitality of every day life in the town and as an important project to carry out.

However, Steve Wickes, owner of Sundance Liquor & Gifts, urged council to pay attention to key details, including ensuring the redeveloped center will serve locals and visitors year-round, and have both adequate public transportation and delivery services to and from all of the center’s commercial areas.

“What you decide this winter on the center is going to affect the daily life of Snowmass Village residents and the daily experiences of guests,” Wickes said. “This really could be the heart of Snowmass if we do it right.”

As previously reported, the plan for the center includes an additional 16,646 square feet of “community serving” commercial and 78 multi-family residential units (68 free market, 10 deed-restricted); the addition of 138 underground parking spaces, bringing the total above and below surface spots to 324; an atrium and increase in public meeting spaces; a new public transit facility; and significant renovations of the existing center businesses, including the U.S. Post Office and Clark’s Market.

The next Snowmass Center discussion will continue to center on the requested height, residential unit, parking and slope encroachment variances by the developer and take place Jan. 6 at 4 p.m.


Snowmass Light Festival to bring immersive, interactive art to town

Snowmass Village is going to be lit Friday and Saturday.

That’s not just a colloquial characterization; over the Passapalooza and Snowmassive Celebration weekend, part of Fanny Hill, the Village Mall and Base Village will have a multitude of light art on display for people to interact with.

Organized by Aspen Skiing Co., over 20 Snowmass Light Festival pieces are set to include on-snow projections, lit-up inflatable pieces and ice sculptures, a magic kaleidoscope carpet ride, a forest of multi-colored trees and light up games of Jenga and bocce ball.

“This is something we hope will add an element to the nighttime activities we’ve never done before,” said Jeff Hanle, Skico’s vice president of communications, of the light festival. “It’s perfect for almost any age and will give people the opportunity to not just look and admire but to participate, too.”

Hanle said Skico events staff has brainstormed ways to enhance Aspen-Snowmass nighttime activities over the years, felt bringing a festival of light art and interactive displays to the ski areas was good idea, and developed the right connections and partnerships this year to make it happen at Snowmass.

One of those partnerships is with longtime resident and well-known sculptor Thomas Barlow of Carbondale.

From sculpting veggies and crafting elaborate cakes, to creating intricate wood and ice sculptures, Barlow said he’s channeled his artistic abilities through a multitude of mediums.

Last year, he was invited to create ice sculptures for the Base Village grand opening celebration, and was excited to be invited to Snowmass for this weekend’s long list of festivities, too.

“There’s an emphasis on lighting this year, so my sculptures will have more lighting effects,” Barlow said. “I think it’s cool for guests to see the sculptures transpire in a matter of hours.”

Barlow also plans to do a live ice sculpting demonstration, and will both sculpt images and carve around ones lasered into the ice to create 3D designs.

Another artist set to bring his work to the Snowmass Light Festival is George Berlin, a self-titled creative genius and artist specializing in projection mapping and immersive audience experiences.

Berlin has competed in light festivals around the world, including Seattle’s Borealis Festival of Light and Bucharest’s International VideoMapping Competition, and has won multiple awards for his projection mapping work.

He said he plans to bring a host of interactive displays — which often look like images, designs or video clips moving across an otherwise ordinary surface — to the snow, sculptures and other areas of Snowmass for the festival.

“What we create is designed to be adapted to any space,” Berlin said of his immersive art. “It’s mind-blowing how it actually works, how it can light up buildings and make them seem so alive. That’s why I like it.”

The Snowmass Light Festival will debut Friday and Saturday after sunset in Base Village, on Fanny Hill and the Village Mall. When asked if it was in the works to be an annual Skico event, Hanle said it hadn’t been discussed but could be a possibility.

“We’ll see what people think and if it’s something we will continue to explore moving forward,” Hanle said.


Britta Gustafson: When are you local?

We seem to set a fairly high value on knowing where a person comes from. It’s usually near the top of the list when getting to know someone new and whether it truly defines us, the place with which we most identify can play a unique role in shaping who we are.

Having grown up here in Snowmass, and with a desire for this particular lifestyle that kept looping me back to the village no matter how I strayed, I have ended up with a fairly analogous connection to my location. My roots here run deep.

But in a tourist town, it doesn’t take much to consider yourself local. Perhaps little more than working and sleeping here will suffice.

I don’t believe we are as territorial here as in some places, which may result from the necessary transient community we have built around the ski instructor lifestyle. But how does one really define local? Is it status, earned over time, or is it a state of connection to the place?

Perhaps it’s a point of reference that denotes knowledge of a specific place and time. If you consider yourself an Aspen local, you might know what it means to meet at the popcorn wagon or the cantina, or your reference point is central to the building where Boogies once was, or Shooters or Little Annie’s. Maybe you still even use “Where the Chart House or Skier Chalet used to be” when giving directions.

In Snowmass Village, you might fondly recall where Gracie’s Cabin was, or perhaps even the very mention of it evokes memories of moonlight parties. And speaking of parties, you may recall dancing in ski boots at the Timbermill, or dining at Chez Gramere. You might still reference the Silvertree’s cul de sac, and you probably still call our grocery store the Village Market.

Perhaps it boils down to our affection for a place and the mutual memories acquired there together over time.

You can probably consider yourself local if you ever skied with Stein Erikson or his crew, heard John Denver play at the Leather Jug, met or had Hilder Anderson as a teacher, caught up with comedian Robin Willams cracking jokes at the former cross-country ski shop, or chatted with Goldie Hawn at the Snowmass Club.

You also can probably dub yourself local if being called a “snow bunny” wasn’t referring to your scanty après-ski attire but rather the title on your ski school bib, or if the phrase “See you at the Dragon,” means, “Let’s meet for apres drinks.”

Or if you learned to swim at the community pool, danced with Ballet West, learned about pottery from Paul Soldner or discovered the world of art with Evelyn Siegel or Susan Casebeer. And yes, it’s pretty local to roll your eyes in exhaustion when the topic of Base Village politics arises.

If you ever frequented the Hive, danced around the old fire pit during Oktoberfest, went sledding behind the Little Red School House (or attended it), ate lobster slopeside at Butches, or already miss the Chocolate Factory, you may be eligible for local status. And if you remember the Tower Fondue or experienced its late night Magic Bar with Doc Eason or Bob Sheets, participated in Banana Days, attended the ski splash, rode the triple chair, or hiked to the Wall, you can probably refer to yourself as local.

For a long time it seemed that to be local meant to have shared a long-term set of experiences that shape our mutual values and life paths, or that intertwine our interests with an era. But perhaps it’s simply the commonalities of our daily rituals that define our roots in one place or another. Those routine experiences that cause us to understand who we are in relation to those around us at that particular moment in time.

Sometimes I feel more connected to Snowmass Village when I’m in one particular place versus another. At Gywn’s High Alpine I’m a local, but when I go to Elk Camp I feel a little less so. I spent almost every day of the summer in my youth at the Snowmass Club, but now when I’m there I’m an outsider, yet I feel very locally connected at the Snowmass Rec Center. And walking to Fanny Hill through the Old Mall feels natural, where navigating Base Village seems less like my home turf. No longer donning a ski instructor uniform, I don’t feel as local when in with the Aspen Skiing Co. crowd.

When we visit a place and feel an instant connection, is that a rift toward local status? The global citizen is a trending definition with lifestyles that seem to allow a more fluid and transient culture. And here, we are blessed by exposure to people with a diverse range of historic and social context. I’d venture to guess that local status is achieved more through mutual exchanges common to our daily experiences and an intention to seek out similar lifestyle than it is to the number of years we call a place home.

I guess local is about where you feel most connected. Whether you visited year after year, have a second home here, or have since moved away, while you are here you are a local; that is if this is the place you want to be from.

Let’s exchange a piece of my mind for a little peace of mind; after all, if we always agree what will we talk about? Britta Gustafson appreciates an open mind; share yours and email her at brittag@ymail.com.

JAS exploring more sustainable venue options for Labor Day festival

Jazz Aspen Snowmass officials detailed the of myriad challenges it faces at Town Park each summer during its Labor Day Experience festival, and what it would take to rectify them, at the Snowmass Town Council meeting Monday night.

The presentation was in response to the statement released by JAS in September confirming the nonprofit’s interest in exploring the feasibility of moving its staple summer music festival to Buttermilk.

The bottom line message to Town Council was simple: JAS Labor Day Experience has outgrown Snowmass Town Park, which doesn’t have enough acreage or accessibility to make it a sustainable venue in the long term.

“Whatever you may or may not have heard, for the past four years we have been in the trenches with the staff of Snowmass fighting our way through these various issues,” Jim Horowitz, JAS president and CEO, said to Town Council on Monday. “We’ve worked very hard and I know town staff has worked really hard, but we have completely outgrown the site.”

For nearly an hour during the administrative report portion of the Monday council meeting, JAS staff explained to council that capacity, mass transportation to and from the venue and parking limitations are the major obstacles that come with hosting the Labor Day Experience at Snowmass Town Park.

Some of these challenges stem from the success of the annual event — which has sold out one to two of the three festival days by early July every year over the past four years — but have reached the point where they need to be addressed either through a venue change or more financial support from Snowmass Village.

“We’re not the boy who cries wolf; what we’re trying to do is be here and say we don’t have a sustainable model for the future,” Horowitz said.

According to Horowitz and Andrea Beard, senior vice president of JAS, the Labor Day Experience accounts for roughly two-thirds of the nonprofit’s annual budget and supports its mission to provide year-round music education programming in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Since the Labor Day event’s inception in 1995, Horowitz said JAS has invested nearly $66 million into the music festival. Over that same time frame, the town of Snowmass Village has contributed roughly $3 million before chargebacks for municipal and public safety services.

That divides out to about a $150,000 annual contribution with roughly $40,000 in chargebacks from the town and fire district, and makes up roughly 1.7% of the festival’s operating budget.

“The only long-term solution is a bigger venue or a lot more money,” Horowitz said.

Horowitz went on to detail a host of other challenges of holding the festival at the current Snowmass venue with help from Beard, including the following:

The 10,000-person capacity set for Snowmass Town Park. This number was reportedly calculated for the venue by town safety officials and based off of fire code interpretations and logistics of getting people out of the venue if an emergency situation were to arise.

However, JAS said the max capacity does not account for attrition, or ticket holders not showing up, Horowitz said. JAS sees between 9,100 and 9,300 daily attendances, and this below-max average costs JAS revenue.

Increased difficulty securing on-site parking for donors and VIP ticket holders at the Rodeo Lot and Snowmass Recreation Center

Though it has improved, busing festivalgoers to and from the venue in a timely manner is an ongoing challenge, as there is only one two-lane road into and a limited staging area for buses at Town Park.

The demand from festivalgoers for bigger-name artists, whose fees continue to increase, and are often out of JAS’ current reach financially and due to venue capacity.

But after several meetings with Snowmass town staff over the past few months, Horowitz said JAS has identified two overarching solutions that could keep the Labor Day Experience sustainable for JAS and in Snowmass Village for years to come.

The first would be to look at moving the main Labor Day Experience venue to the meadow below Horse Ranch and adjacent to the Snowmass Recreation Center, which has the acreage to allow for future growth and retains the current site’s natural beauty.

This move would require a significant amount of research and tweaks to make the open space area feasible, including creating dirt roads for vehicular access and three flat areas for the stage, VIP viewing patio and artist compound.

If the town would be unwilling or unable to pursue the Horse Ranch area as a venue, Horowitz said the second option could be to keep the festival in Snowmass Town Park but would mean JAS would need an increase in financial support, an increase in the ticket sell-out threshold and the ability to seek sponsorship money from CBD products, which the town currently does not allow.

JAS also presented a third option, which is to move the festival to Buttermilk. JAS estimates the available acreage at Buttermilk is nearly triple the size of the festival space at Snowmass Town Park, and has the advantage of a larger existing transportation hub and pedestrian access.

JAS is in the very early stages of exploring all three options presented Monday, Horowitz said, but hopes to stay in Snowmass Village if the town is willing to collaborate to make the proposed solutions a reality.

“If all of the site challenges could be met, we would be very happy to stay in Snowmass,” Horowitz said. “We’re not trying to leave but we’re in a box right now and we need your help if you want us to be the stable organization to count on for years to come.”

After the JAS presentation, Snowmass Town Council voiced its appreciation of the in-depth presentation and openness of the conversation, and plans work with JAS to pursue a sustainable solution for both entities moving forward.

“We’re trying to manage our way out of a situation of success,” said Mayor Markey Butler, who also serves as the ex-officio on the JAS board of directors. “I think everyone sitting here would like to see that continued success. … We need to be solution-minded.”