Jazz Aspen experiences growing pains
September 4, 2007
While Sunday’s sellout crowd of 12,000 at the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Festival strained local resources, festival boss Jim Horowitz said he would like to see the festival continue to expand. Members of the Snowmass Town Council are firmly behind him, even though they recognized that there were capacity issues at Sunday’s concert.”We obviously didn’t have enough toilets,” said Horowitz, the nonprofit festival’s founder and executive director. “We have to do a better job of making the food-and-beverage access for the village better. We just need a little more capacity, more bodies moving it. If you have long lines, if people have to stand in line for the majority of the intermission, that’s not our goal.”
Still, Horowitz would like to see three or four days of the festival reach peak attendance. He said that is less of a logistics issue, which is solvable, and more of a question about what talent to bring. Horowitz pointed out that the second-biggest concert at a Labor Day Festival was Friday night in 2004 that Jack Johnson played. The current venue, however, simply can’t squeeze in more people. As it stands, Horowitz doesn’t see a possibility of increasing the capacity and keeping it where it is. “Snowmass is home,” he said. “We need a flat piece of grass. There is no other one we’re aware of. If the city wanted to dramatically expand the venue, it could be looked at. But measured growth is the smart thing for us to be reaching for. If it could happen that there were three days like that, it would be pretty amazing.”
Snowmass Mayor Douglas Mercatoris said he is willing to discuss logistics for reaching capacity on multiple nights, or possibly having a venue to accommodate an even larger attendance, if that’s what it takes. “The more the merrier,” Councilman Arnie Mordkin said. “It kind of boggled one’s mind to realize how many people were there. It seems to me, part of enjoying a festival is having a big crowd and getting that energy that comes with 10,000 as opposed to 2,000 people.”Mercatoris and Mordkin said they thought it could be relatively easy to deal with logistics. Both said it is important that people have a good experience at the festival.
Councilman John Wilkinson compared the festivals to the Winter X Games and pointed out that, although many thought the X Games reached capacity five years ago, it has continued to expand every year. “I believe that, if need be, there is a way to expand our venue to accommodate the popularity that he labor festival has grown to,” he said. “All options are open for discussion.”Joel Stonington’s e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org