Jazz Aspen June Fest back in `04? | AspenTimes.com
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Jazz Aspen June Fest back in `04?

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Jazz Aspen Snowmass would like to bring its June Festival back to Aspen’s Rio Grande Park next summer and has asked the city to help subsidize the event with a $75,000 contribution.

“We think this is the right kind of marriage – of what the festival has to offer and what the town needs,” said Jim Horowitz, JAS executive producer.

If Aspen becomes a permanent home for the event, the festival could become a key part of a vibrant summer season, according to Horowitz.



“The opportunity, we think, is pretty enormous,” he said. “Conversely, it can also help the festival be the event that it should be.”

Horowitz outlined his request during Wednesday’s kickoff to a series of 2004 budget meetings before the City Council.




Council members took no action on either the request to use the park or the appropriation for the festival, but Councilwoman Rachel Richards voiced concern about the impact of the four-day event on the park. Heavy vehicles driving across the grass to set up and dismantle the venue took their toll during this year’s event.

The turf took a beating and was closed off to public use for much of the summer. Only the Ducky Derby and Race For The Cure were staged at Rio Grande Park, and its condition nearly forced cancellation of the Mother Lode Volleyball Classic over the Labor Day weekend, Richards noted.

The grass still hasn’t fully recovered, according to Jeff Woods, parks director.

“If we’re going to allow this thing to go forward, you have to floor the whole thing,” he said.

Installing temporary flooring at the park for the 3,000-seat tent is probably too costly, Horowitz said. If the city wants to keep the event, some long-term improvements to the park are probably in order, he suggested.

The city should probably look at installing synthetic turf at one of its parks if it wants to host these kinds of events, City Manager Steve Barwick agreed.

Jazz Aspen’s June Fest began as an Aspen event but had long been held in Snowmass Village. Ongoing construction of the Snowmass golf course forced it into Aspen this year, and a number of local merchants lauded the move. Some have urged the council to do what it takes to keep the event in town.

Horowitz said he has spoken with Snowmass officials and Aspen Music Festival executives. Both groups are OK with keeping the event in Aspen, he said.

Jazz Aspen’s larger Labor Day Festival will remain in Snowmass, Horowitz said.

The June Festival attracted about 9,300 people this year. The pedestrian nature of the park venue, which allowed jazz patrons to wander around town and to other performances held in conjunction with concerts at the park, was an ideal experience, according to Horowitz.

If Aspen doesn’t want the festival next year, the big-tent concerts may not take place at all, he said.

“Clearly, the town, the council, the community have to determine the value of a special event,” he said. “Special events have impacts – positive and negative.”

[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com]


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