Labor Day festival price tag: $37,500 |

Labor Day festival price tag: $37,500

Catherine Lutz

Jazz Aspen Snowmass wants to draw 30,000 people to its Labor Day festival in Snowmass Village, and the town’s marketing board has offered the organization a cash carrot to do so.The Snowmass Village Marketing and Special Events Board agreed Thursday to fund Jazz Aspen Snowmass to the tune of $162,500 this year – guaranteed. And Jazz Aspen Snowmass can earn $37,500 more if the four-day music festival meets the highest attendance projections it’s ever aspired to at the Snowmass venue. The 2002 Labor Day Festival at Buttermilk attracted a record crowd of 25,000.Jazz Aspen Snowmass Executive Producer Jim Horowitz told the marketing board that increasing attendance to 30,000 could be done.”What happened at Buttermilk was talent and venue,” he told the board. Spending big money on names like Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson for last year’s festival was well worth it, he said, adding that “convenience was a huge factor.””Now we need to put out the message that Snowmass has a bigger and better venue,” he said. Horowitz wants to have the festival on an expanded venue stretching from the reconstructed Snowmass Club golf course site, across Brush Creek Road (which would be closed to through traffic) and into the town park. Snowmass’ police, fire and transportation officials have agreed that the site could accommodate 12,000 concertgoers, but organizers are still required to apply for an annual temporary-use permit.Buttermilk, which hosted the 2002 Labor Day Festival, is off the table as an option – the Aspen Skiing Co. offered it as a one-time deal because the Snowmass golf course was still under construction. And besides, Horowitz said, Snowmass is a better “pure venue” from an organizational perspective, and “it’s prettier.”But, he added, in an effort to convince the marketing board to spend $200,000 on the festival, “the risk factor is enormous. Now we have to drag people back to Snowmass” after the immense success of the festival at Buttermilk.In the past, the Snowmass Village Resort Association contributed about $100,000 yearly to the festival program, and would have given about $125,000 this year had its contract with Jazz Aspen Snowmass been continued. The marketing board easily approved continuing the $125,000 subsidy, but asked to see a return on the additional $75,000. So board members agreed to guarantee half – $37,500 – for Snowmass-specific elements that would benefit local businesses, such as a Jazz Aspen Snowmass After Dark program at restaurants and bars on the Snowmass Mall.The other half will only come if Jazz Aspen Snowmass delivers 30,000 concertgoers. The move reflected the board’s philosophy of doing business in an incentive-based fashion. Also on Thursday, the marketing board approved $62,000 in funding for the Thursday summer free concert series, more than double what was committed last summer. The Community Fund, which puts on the concert series, will add two concerts to their lineup this summer, both on Saturdays.

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