‘Shift happens’: Snowmass begins to plan summer activities amid pandemic
It’s not a secret that summer is going to look a lot different in Snowmass Village this year.
There will be no Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience, no big Fanny Hill concerts and no Snowmass Rodeo due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. But while some events won’t take place, many others are being reimagined and replanned as smaller, more social distanced activities that will still keep the village vibrant and allow people to have fun in a safe way.
“The easiest thing for us to do would be to say we’re not going to do these events,” said Rose Abello, director of Snowmass Tourism. “But we’re not ready to give up. … I don’t know what the public health orders are going to be and we don’t know what we’ll be able to pull off. But we’re going to try to do everything we can to create vitality and support for our businesses in Snowmass.”
For Abello and her tourism and marketing team, this year’s guiding theme is “shift happens.”
At a “Tourism Talk” stakeholder meeting last week, which Snowmass Tourism plans to virtually host each month moving forward, town tourism staff went over the events and activations being nailed down for the village this summer — emphasizing the idea that whatever is planned will be shifted and adapted to align with the “public health order of the moment,” Abello said.
And while some of what was presented is pretty firmed up, Abello said a lot of the ideas are “half-baked,” needing more details and specifics finalized in the coming weeks to make them a reality.
“The county’s ‘Roadmap to Reopening’ was published two weeks ago and that was the first concrete thing that we had to look at and say, ‘OK, well given this path the county hopes to implement, what can we do?’” Abello explained.
So far, the town is working with its event partners and village stakeholders on a few weekly events starting in July, including Tuesday Farm to Table and Snowmass Bike Park nights; Thursday “Brews, Bands and Bingo” nights, which would feature bingo at The Collective and live music at different venues in the village in place of the usual Thursday night concert series on Fanny Hill; and “Social Saturdays,” a series of smaller events around the village meant to be fun and engaging but not to draw huge crowds.
Abello said tourism officials also are looking into hosting monthly drive-in concerts and bi-monthly drive-in movies in the Snowmass Town Park area, and are developing more “self-serving” events like scavenger hunts, art walks and Discovery Trail interpretive hikes families can do on their own.
For Fourth of July, the town is looking at hosting a “drive-by” event where people can celebrate by picking up sweet treats like ice cream and pie, but there will be no big celebration or special concert.
Other larger events like the Snowmass Balloon Festival (Sept. 11 to 13), Rendezvous Craft Beer Festival (Aug. 21 and 22), Heritage Fire (Aug. 29), Cidermass (Sept. 12), and the Snowmass Wine Festival (Sept. 19) also are still tentatively planned to take place and would be reimagined to ensure proper social distancing. Many Snowmass racing events are still scheduled to take place, too — the Audi Power of Snowmass mountain biking race July 25, the New Belgium Ranger Station 5K and Audi Power of Four Trail Run on Aug. 1, and the Colorado Classic Women’s Road Bike Race on Aug. 27 — though strict staging, spectator and social-distancing measures would be in place.
“Bottom line, all of our events and activities are going to be to the letter and spirit of the law,” Abello said. “We’re going to do things right.”
In Base Village specifically, events staff are working on events that provide locals and guests access to safe, creative ways to have fun. According to Dawn Blasberg, plaza and events manager for Base Village, and Sara Halferty, curator for The Collective, this summer’s planned line-up of events and activities includes yoga led by Aaron King and other fitness classes in the rink space; Friday artisan markets with up to 14 vendors and a live DJ starting July 10; Saturday “Movies under the Stars” in partnership with Aspen Film starting July 11; and a host of art shows and activities with Straight Line Studio around the Base Village Plaza.
Blasberg and Halferty said they’re working with all of the Base Village restaurants and retail stores to ensure each event is collaborative. This means offering local grab-and-go food and beverages before and/or after fitness classes in the rink area and hosting smaller events that work to support the whole village, like the locals night planned for July 1 when Alux Spalon is set to open.
“Staying on board with the public health guidelines and supporting the local community is our main goal,” Halferty said. “It’s sad to see everything shut down so we want to get open as soon as we’re allowed and make it the absolute best summer it can be.”
The Collective, mix6 and moxiBar plan to be open five days a week, Thursday through Monday starting July 1, with a trained attendant in the game lounge to ensure social distancing takes place and game equipment is disinfected after each individual use. The lounge’s ball pool will not be open for the summer season.
“Our goal is to create a safe environment where locals, people on vacation and second homeowners want to be,” Blasberg said. “As we can adjust and add more activations, we’re open to it as long as it is safe to do so.”
On the mountain, Aspen Skiing Co. plans to start running the Elk Camp Gondola on June 21, offering downhill mountain biking, hiking access, the alpine coaster, the rope challenge course, climbing wall and Camp Aspen Snowmass programming, according to an emailed statement. The town plans to start operating the Skittles gondola on June 19.
Skico also hopes to offer on-mountain dining and other activities in Snowmass within any existing limitations and if allowed. The company also will modify all of its offerings and operational procedures to address all guidelines and health protocols in place by the state and the county, the statement says.
Overall, while summer may not be the same in Snowmass this year due to the pandemic, Snowmass event planners and town officials are working hard with stakeholders to come up with best practices for hosting events amid the COVID-19 crisis, to work together and to ensure the village continues to be a safe, fun place for all locals and visitors.
“This is the summer where shift happens and we will continue to shift and shift and shift again,” Abello said. “We’re not throwing in the towel and we’re going to do everything we can to support our community.”
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