Approved event lawn will house yoga festival, other group events in Snowmass | AspenTimes.com

Approved event lawn will house yoga festival, other group events in Snowmass

Jill Beathard
Snowmass Sun

Private individuals play volleyball last year on a sand court in Base Village. The court lies where a 22,500-square-foot lawn for events is going to be built this fall and spring. The lawn will still be able to accomodate a sand court if an event calls for it.

Snowmass Tourism is close to signing a deal with Wanderlust, a four-day yoga and music festival that attracts thousands of people every year, to take place in Snowmass Village in July.

Courting the festival — first held in Squaw Valley, Calif., in 2009 and now taking place in various locations around the world — was the initial reason the tourism department proposed creating a flat lawn for events at the base of Fanny Hill, which received the blessing of the Town Council and the property owners last week.

However, Wanderlust is not the only group event that requires a flat outdoor area for its event, so tourism officials are hoping the space will open doors to more group business.

"I'm willing to bet that we have lost business because of a lack of meeting space," said Yan Baczkowski, director of Snowmass Tourism.

In his presentation to the Town Council on Sept. 23, Baczkowski gave estimates of revenue numbers for a large event with approximately 1,500 participants. With hotel rooms plus ancillary spending, he estimates that a group that size — along with its travel companions — would spend about $831,250. That scenario would produce $31,281.25 in tax dollars for the town.

The Town Council approved budgeting $150,000 for the 22,500-square-foot lawn, which will come out of the marketing fund and also was approved by the Marketing, Special Events and Group Sales Board. Contractors will start work on raising the concrete steps to Base Village this fall, while the leveling of the ground and installation of power and irrigation lines will likely take place next spring to avoid interfering with Aspen Skiing Co.'s preparation for ski season.

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"There should be no problem in getting everything done in time," Baczkowski said.

Wanderlust attendees will stay in Snowmass Village hotels, Baczkowski said. Snowmass Tourism is hopeful that the Wanderlust guests will want to return to the Village.

"The intention is to attract groups and events that attract groups," Baczkowski said.

In that spirit, Snowmass Tourism also is working to schedule a Harley-Davidson event and to bring back the Utah State Bar, which had a conference in the village the same weekend as the Deaf Camp Picnic. Events are "an added value to us bringing our groups here," Baczkowski said.

During the council meeting, Councilman Jason Haber asked if the lawn would interfere with the town hosting the Snowmass Doubles volleyball tournament again. The tourney had its first event this summer and used a sand court in the area where the lawn will be installed.

"It's going to have a multi-use purpose," Baczkowski said. He anticipates the lawn being able to accommodate events like Wanderlust as well as "events where we put in tents, events where we put in sand," he said.

The lawn would "create economic vitality in Base Village," Baczkowski said.

Having a place for events that draw business to Snowmass' commercial cores is a problem that has come to the surface of late. Some businesspeople in the town were disappointed when the Sept. 14 Snowmass Wine Festival relocated to Town Park, so tourism officials decided to try having the Balloon Festival Night Glow on Fanny Hill. Although that encouraged a lot of traffic for restaurants and shops in the mall and Base Village, many attendees were not happy hiking up and down the slope.

Having a flat lawn at the base, though, would provide another alternative for those events and others like them.

jbeathard@snowmasssun.com

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