Aspen Food & Wine not sold out yet |

Aspen Food & Wine not sold out yet

Carolyn SackariasonThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN For the first time in recent history, the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen is not sold out.Nearly a month away, the three-day event draws 5,000 consumers, exhibitors, sponsors and trade professionals to imbibe on thousands of vintages and the latest Epicurean delights.Typically the event sells out in late winter, but thats not the case with this years troubled national and international economy.Even though not every pass has been sold, its getting close, said Christina Grdovic of Food & Wine Magazine.Relative to whats going on in the world, were doing really well, she said, adding that a few dozen consumer passes still remain for the event scheduled June 19-21. Those passes sell for $1,185.Also still available is a new pass aimed at making the event more accessible. The Grand Tasting Pass sells for $250 and provides guests the opportunity to attend two Grand Tastings in a single day, either Friday, June 19, or Saturday, June 20. The other one-time event pass is for the Best New Chefs Dinner, which sells for $250. The event has always been invite-only but is now being opened to the general public.The weekend will be more action packed than most this summer since Jazz Aspen Snowmass is holding its June festival at the same time. While live music will be held in the evening, and most Food & Wine tastings and seminars are during the day, there are vintner dinners and other events at night.Organizers of both events dont see themselves as competing for guests.No, its not a conflict at all, said JAS Executive Director Jim Horowitz. Overall we think its a good synergy but the proof will be in the pudding.Event officials say Food & Wine clientele typically fly in for the event while those looking for music at Jazz Aspen Snowmass already are here, or drive from different areas of the region.Horowitz said he expects many Food & Wine pass holders to eat and drink during the day and then look for entertainment in the evening. He said he hopes they will head over to the Benedict Music Tent after theyve had their gastronomic fill.The JAS event was moved to the music tent this year to save money, and the June 19-21 schedule was the only weekend the venue was available before the Aspen Music Festival begins for the summer.Horowitz said the June festival was held at the same time as Food & Wine in 1992 but JAS was only two years old at the time.We were barely a pimple on the Aspen scene, he said, adding the event wasnt much competition for Food & Wine.Horowitz said he is working with the Aspen Chamber Resort Association to market the festival to Food & Wine attendees when they register.Grdovic said there are opportunities for both groups pass holders will be informed of concerts scheduled for the evening and JAS ticket holders can purchase the Grand Tasting pass.Our first reaction was we were concerned, and we wanted to talk through those concerns, she said. We realized there were opportunities that didnt exist in the past, especially for people who can make a last-minute decision.ACRA President and CEO Debbie Braun said she doesnt see any conflicts.Were excited about it, she said. Bonding together is a good thing.Bill Tomcich, president of central reservations booking agency, Stay Aspen Snowmass, said advance bookings for June 18 put the resort at 70 percent full in Aspen and Snowmass. The balance of the weekend is 50 percent full at area hotels.Pretty good bookings although plenty of rooms left to sell, which is a good thing because Food and Wine isnt 100 percent sold out either, he said.Not everyone is excited about the event-packed weekend Ride the Rockies is being held at that time as well, which means hundreds of bicyclists will stay overnight in town on Thursday, June 18.I think that its great to have these events, said Mitch Osur, regional manager of Aspen Sports and chair of the newly formed Aspen Retail Association. Obviously as a retailer, I would love it if they were spread out over three weekends instead of