Festival on fire | AspenTimes.com

Festival on fire

Joel Stonington

Sunday’s sold-out Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day show was the largest crowd the festival has ever seen. The Allman Brothers Band, Michael Franti & Spearhead and Leftover Salmon drew the record crowds, leaving the festival grounds jammed and resources tapped as people waited an hour or more for food and drink. “We can always look at ways to improve flow,” said Jim Horowitz, Jazz Aspen founder and executive producer. “But the truth of the matter is, when you go to a very big concert, you can move but you can’t move all that quickly. It was right to capacity without a doubt.”

Sunday’s attendance of 12,000 was more than the entire Jazz Aspen June Festival; it also topped the previous single-day attendance record of 11,000 for Jack Johnson, G. Love and Donavon Frankenreiter in 2004.At 8,000 attendees, Saturday’s show by Galactic, Joss Stone and John Legend nearly topped last year’s most attended concert (Don Henley at 8,200). Ben Harper and Nickel Creek drew 7,000 on Friday, and Monday’s concert with Gov’t Mule headlining drew nearly 6,000. In all, 33,000 people came to Snowmass for this year’s Labor Day Festival, which crushed last year’s total attendance of 21,500. It also tops the 32,000 who attended the five-day 2005 festival headlined by Widespread Panic.Still, this year’s crowds were peaceful, with no violence and few arrests by local law enforcement. The Snowmass police saw the most activity on Sunday. Police Chief Art Smythe said he would likely have a discussion with Jazz Aspen Snowmass about how to best handle so many people.

“It was crowded inside the event,” Smythe said. “That’s something we’ll work on with Jazz Aspen. [Sunday] was a good test for us.”Snowmass police had one DUI, one MIP, a few disorderly conduct violations and about half a dozen detoxes during the weekend, nearly all of which happened on Sunday. The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Director Jeff Lumsden said little spilled over into the county and that there was only one DUI arrest. “The record crowd here [Sunday] night tested all the systems,” Smythe said. “For the most part, the crowd was well-behaved.”

Horowitz praised the service of folks like the Snowmass police and said the Jazz Aspen staff also deserved credit for bringing off a successful festival. “Great shows, good weather, you couldn’t really ask for a better festival,” Horowitz said. “I’m happy we got through. It was a big weekend. We’re very happy that another good one has gone by and we can’t wait until next year.”Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is jstonington@aspentimes.com