Maroon Bells Birthday Bash has Aspen City Council support
The Aspen Times
The Aspen City Council pledged $5,000 on Monday to the Maroon Bells Birthday Bash, after organizers agreed to lower ticket prices.
That is the same amount as Pitkin County, which also is contributing to the organizers’ goal of raising $43,000. The Aug. 2 event at the base of Aspen Highlands will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, which established the first 54 wilderness areas in the U.S.
Organizers initially had listed ticket prices between $25 and $30. Chris Lane, CEO of the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, said at a previous meeting that those prices were, in part, set so that the event could draw compelling musical acts. Mayor Steve Skadron spoke out against that price point, saying it would deter the target audience — families and children — from coming. Council members supported a $2,500 contribution at that meeting.
Lane returned for Monday’s work session saying prices could be lowered to $15 and $20 — advanced and at the door, respectively — to which Skadron responded, “I can support a city contribution of $5,000. I love the event. What I can’t support is an event celebrating public property that presents any cost impediment to anyone who wants to come.”
Lane said he agreed with Skadron, but if ticket prices were lowered, they might be gambling with a lopsided budget.
Councilman Adam Frisch said he’d like to see $10 tickets, like Skadron, but if it couldn’t be done, he was willing to discuss it further. Councilwoman Ann Mullins agreed with Skadron, while Councilman Dwayne Romero gave his support for a $5,000 contribution based on the county’s decision.
In addition to the $5,000, the city council agreed to waive about $1,500 in contracted transportation services, through the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, for the event. This gave Lane further confidence, and he committed to $10 ticket prices before saying he would return to the council at a later date to finalize the agreement.
The event will feature four bands — Shook Twins, Paper Bird, Halden Wofford & the Hi-Beams and Let Them Roar — as well as author Rick Bass, a Ute Nation performance, kids’ activities and wilderness displays.
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There is a lot of pent up energy among hikers and bikers to get into the high country, but snow fields, avalanche debris and high stream crossings are presenting challenges later than usual. Forest rangers with the Aspen-Sopris District provide trail condition reports that are updated each week so hikers and backpackers aren’t caught unaware.