Councilmen frown on sports festival at Denver sanctuary | AspenTimes.com
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Councilmen frown on sports festival at Denver sanctuary

Janet Urquhart

The International Outdoor Festival has proposed making the John Denver Sanctuary its home base, but a couple of Aspen City Council members weren’t too keen on the idea Monday.

The festival, which debuted in Aspen last summer, brings world-class athletes to town to lead clinics and demonstrations in various disciplines. It used the Silver Circle Ice Arena as its home base last year, but the rink will be a construction zone this summer.

Event director Peter Johnson pitched use of the sanctuary at the council’s noon meeting. But Councilmen Tom McCabe and Tony Hershey – the only two council members in attendance – weren’t crazy about a beer garden, live music and a vendors’ tent at the sanctuary.

Both suggested Johnson explore other sites. The Hildur Anderson property, along the Roaring Fork River on the east side of town, was mentioned as an option. The city recently acquired the parcel.

“I’m not crazy about events happening at the John Denver Sanctuary,” McCabe said. “I’d like to encourage you to look somewhere else locally. I do take the word `sanctuary’ as meaning sanctuary.”

“I think of the sanctuary as a place of quiet contemplation,” Hershey agreed. “We have a little time, so let’s look at other options.”

Johnson suggested the Aug. 23-26 festival could use the sanctuary without having damaging impacts. “It’s a nice setting for what we’re promoting, which is getting out in the outdoors,” he said.

The sanctuary was created by the city, along with fans and private donors. The late singer’s fans would have something to say about use of the site for the festival, McCabe predicted.

“I’ll get e-mails from all over the world on that one,” he said.

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