Aspen puts $147K toward special events
ASPEN – The Aspen City Council on Tuesday allocated $147,500 toward special events with the notion that they will stimulate the economy by drawing guests to town.
More than 30 concepts with a total of $544,500 in requests were submitted to the city, which were vetted by a 12-member committee over the past few months.
The council allocated seed money to the events which were recommended by the committee, except for one that was proposed by the Aspen Skiing Co. and three others by the city of Aspen’s special events department.
The council is supportive of the Skico’s Snow Beats proposal, which would be a three-day music festival in downtown Aspen with popular musicians.
But because the event was planned for March 5-7, it was determined that there wasn’t enough time to plan it this year. The council agreed to provide money for 2011.
The council decided the city’s special events requests should come from the general fund and not the $200,000 that was set aside specifically for economic stimulus. However, the council did provide a monetary contribution for the Owl Creek Chase, which will be held in February.
The council allocated $50,000 for the planning and coordination of Encore Aspen, which is envisioned as a week-long celebration of arts and culture from Aug. 23-29. The Aspen Institute, Theatre Aspen, Aspen Art Museum, Aspen Film, Aspen Music Festival, Aspen Writers’ Foundation and Jazz Aspen Snowmass would present a week of events that include film, story-telling, singing, discussion and visual arts.
The council wants the group to work with the Wheeler Opera House and its programming during that time, and then report back on its progress.
The council spent three hours Tuesday reviewing and discussing the proposals, along with some new ones that were introduced by organizers who didn’t participate in formal presentations to the committee.
Two of the committee members, councilmen Derek Johnson and Torre, gave brief summations of what the group’s thinking was behind its recommendations to the council. The driving force behind the recommendations were whether the event would “put heads in beds.”
City officials and the council agreed that many of the events and ideas would need to be fleshed out and coordinated more. Torre suggested Aspen resident Andrew Kole, a marketing specialist who participated in the process, to work under contract with the city toward the effort. An employment agreement will be presented at a later time.
City officials also will draw up contracts with the event organizers to ensure profits aren’t pocketed, and that they are accountable for their budgets and their success is measured.
The council agreed to fund:
• Aspen Lacrosse Shootout: $5,000 – This event, now in its third year, is estimated to generate between 37 and 45 teams. It is scheduled to take place May 14-16. Each team has 20 or more players, and parents are expected to travel with players. It’s estimated that the event will draw between 1,800 and 2,000 people in town during an offseason weekend.
• Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club presents the U.S. Alpine Championships: $5,000 – The U.S. Ski Team and top racers from Canada and Europe will come to Aspen on Feb. 20-March 1. Racers will compete on America’s Downhill World Cup course for the Roch Cup – the oldest alpine skiing award in U.S. history. The event anticipates 200 people in town for 10 days, generating 2,000 pillow nights (200 people renting rooms for 10 days).
• Wintersköl EPIC Winterfest: $15,000 – This event is in addition to the annual four-day Wintersköl celebration held in January, designed to bolster business in a slow week. It would be an all-day street festival on Jan. 16, and include free activities such as live music, entertainers, and food and beverages at the corner of Galena Street and Cooper Avenue.
• Aspen Fashion Week: $15,000 – In its second year, Fashion Week is a destination event showcasing winter, ski and technical outerwear. It includes slopeside runway events, fashion shows, in-store presentations, on-mountain activities and parties throughout town. This year, it will be held from March 14-19 and is estimated to draw 500 people daily.
• Fall in Love in Aspen: $10,000 – The four-night, three-day event is planned to be held Oct. 6-10, and will be filled with activities designed for singles from their 20s to 40s with the hopes of meeting a mate. It’s estimated to draw 1,000 people and generate 2,400 rental room nights.
• Aspen BBQ block party: $15,000 – The weekend event is envisioned to be held in August, between the Aspen Music Festival and Jazz Aspen Snowmass. It involves bringing five of the nation’s top “pitmasters” to Aspen for a barbecue cook-off, as well as cooking seminars and other events like live music – possibly a blues band – at the base of Aspen Mountain. The proceeds will benefit a local charity.
• Taste of Aspen: $7,500 – Marketed and advertised through a social media campaign, the single-day event would be held either June 12 or Sept. 25. As a previously held event, it is similar to the original and involves local restaurants showcasing their food under tents set up along Hopkins Avenue, between Monarch and Mill streets. A beer garden, live music and cooking classes are part of the day. The city allocation is one-time only.
• Outside in Aspen: $15,000 – The summer event to be held June 10-13 will draw more than 200 people who vary from weekend warrior athletes to those just entering competitions for the first time. Organized events and pricing packages surrounding rafting, rock climbing, paragliding, fly-fishing, kayaking and road biking will be offered.
Ideas to pursue: $5,000 – Singer/songwriter festival: A three-day event in September that brings musicians and artists from around the country to Aspen to compete for cash prizes.
Collector/car auction: Three-day event that showcases one-of-a-kind collectables like cars, planes, boats and memorabilia under tents in various areas throughout town.
Other concepts include mountain biking on Aspen Mountain; Bikepalooza, a series of events involving bicycling; an art auction; and a classic car show and rally.
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