So what’s the big idea for Aspen special events? |

So what’s the big idea for Aspen special events?

ASPEN – The Aspen City Council on Tuesday will consider doling out as much as $200,000 for special events conjured up by community members, with the goal of generating tourism dollars to stimulate the resort’s economy for years to come.

A committee has recommended that the city provide $142,500 in seed money for 10 specific events, with an additional allocation for six other ideas to be pursued and one idea for the council to determine how much funding it should get. The remaining $57,500 is still up for grabs, and the council will ultimately decide how it is spent.

The council is scheduled to review the recommendations and possibly make a decision Tuesday during a work session.

The council last year set aside $200,000 to bolster tourism as part of an economic stimulus for the resort. The city this past fall came up with an initiative called “Mining for Ideas,” which asked people to submit ideas that would stimulate Aspen’s economy through special events and “outside-the-box” approaches.

The initial round generated 32 ideas, and the committee reduced them to 12. After the campaign, another 10 ideas were submitted, and five of them were considered further. Eight ideas brainstormed by the group also were considered.

In its recommendation, the 12-person committee provided the council with hundreds of pages of documents that detail the proposed events’ budgets, projected impacts to the local economy and a host of other criteria to measure.

The committee is comprised of representatives from the city, the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, the city’s Commercial Core and Lodging Commission, the Aspen Skiing Co. and two council members.

The council’s intention is that the money should generate “heads in beds,” as opposed to ideas for marketing and advertising.

The committee’s guiding principle is that the events be a manifestation of the “Aspen Idea” – nurturing the mind, body and spirit, as well as be true to the city’s environmental stewardship.

Measured success of the events will be that business activity is increased to offset the $200,000 expenditure and tax revenues will be up as a result of economic activity; jobs will be created or hours will be increased; lodging occupancies will be up; and there will be increased business at restaurants and retail shops.

Here is a rundown of the committee’s recommendations and a brief description of the events. For more information on any of the concepts or events, log onto: and then click on Jan. 5 City Council work session under “calendar of events.”

• Aspen Lacrosse Shootout: This event, now in its third year, is estimated to generate between 37 and 45 teams. It is scheduled to take place May 14-16. Each team has 20 or more players, and parents are expected to travel with players. It’s estimated that the event would draw between 1,800 and 2,000 people in town during an offseason weekend. Champion – Mark Pisani Request – $5,000 Recommendation – $5,000

• City of Aspen events: Two separate events are proposed: “Bonspiel” is a curling tournament over the weekend of Sept. 10-12 that would draw teams from around the country. The second is a series of activities in downtown Aspen from June to September that includes face painting, clowns and other entertainment to create vitality in the core. Champions – Nancy Lesley, Sandra Doebler and Kristin Drake (representing the city’s special events and marketing department). Request – $32,000 Recommendation – $20,000 ($10,000 for each event)

• Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club presents U.S. Alpine Championships: The U.S. Ski Team and top racers from Canada and Europe will come to Aspen on Feb. 20-March 1. Racers will compete on America’s Downhill World Cup course for the Roch Cup – the oldest Alpine skiing award in U.S. history. The event anticipates 200 people in town for 10 days, generating 2,000 pillow nights (200 people renting rooms for 10 days). Champion – Andrew Kole Request – $5,000 Recommendation – $5,000

• Winterskol EPIC Winterfest: This event would be in addition to the annual four-day Winterskol celebration held in January, designed to bolster business in a slow week. It would be an all-day street festival on Jan. 16, and include free activities such as live music, entertainers, and food and beverages at the corner of Galena Street and Cooper Avenue. Champion – Jennifer Albright Carney, ACRA’s vice president of event marketing. Request – $20,000 Recommendation – $15,000

• Aspen Fashion Week: In its second year, Fashion Week is a destination event showcasing winter, ski and technical outerwear. It includes slopeside runway events, fashion shows, in-store presentations, on-mountain activities and parties throughout town. This year, it will be held from March 14-19 and is estimated to draw 500 people daily. Champion – Lisa Johnson Request – $50,000 Recommendation – $15,000

• Fall in Love in Aspen: The four-night, three-day event is planned to be held Oct. 6-10, and would be filled with activities designed for singles from their 20s to 40s with the hopes of meeting a mate. It’s estimated to draw 1,000 people and generate 2,400 rental room nights. Champion – Sally Hansen’s original proposal; Andrew Kole building on it. Request – $20,000 Recommendation – $10,000

• Aspen BBQ block party: The weekend event is envisioned to be held in August, between the Aspen Music Festival and Jazz Aspen Snowmass. It would involve bringing five of the nation’s top “pitmasters” to Aspen for a barbecue cook-off, as well as cooking seminars and other events like live music – possibly a blues band – at the base of Aspen Mountain. The proceeds would benefit a local charity. Champion – Little Nell/ACRA Request – $20,000 Recommendation – $15,000

• Taste of Aspen: Marketed and advertised through a social media campaign, the single-day event would be held either June 12 or Sept. 25. As a previously held event, it would be similar to the original and involve local restaurants showcasing their food under tents set up along Hopkins Avenue, between Monarch and Mill streets. A beer garden, live music and cooking classes are part of the day. Champion – Rob Ittner, owner of Rustique Bistro. Request – $7,500 Recommendation – $7,500

• Outside in Aspen: The summer event to be held June 10-13 would draw more than 200 people who vary from weekend warrior athletes to those just entering competitions for the first time. Organized events and pricing packages surrounding rafting, rock climbing, paragliding, fly fishing, kayaking and road biking will be held. Champion – ACRA/Promo Communications Request – $20,000 Recommendation – $20,000

• Snow Beats: A three-day music festival in downtown Aspen with popular musicians. The event would be held March 5-7, and venues would include outdoor places like Wagner Park. It’s estimated to draw between 3,000 and 5,000 people a day. Champion – Deric Gunshor Request – $50,000 Recommendation – $25,000

• Encore Aspen: A week celebrating arts and culture from Aug. 23-29. The Aspen Institute, Theatre Aspen, Aspen Art Museum, Aspen Film, Aspen Music Festival, Aspen Writers’ Foundation and Jazz Aspen Snowmass would present a week of events that include film, story-telling, singing, discussion and visual arts. Champions – Nonprofit community Request – $150,000 Recommendation – To be determined by council.

• Ideas to pursue: Council allocation – $5,000

Singer/songwriter festival: A three-day event in September that brings musicians and artists from around the country to Aspen to compete for cash prizes. Champion is Jack Johnson.

Collector/car auction: Three-day event that showcases one-of-a-kind collectables like cars, planes, boats and memorabilia under tents in various areas throughout town. Champion is Scott Miller, the city’s asset manager.

Mountain biking on Aspen Mountain: Information not available.

Bikepalooza: Information not available.

Art auction: Information not available.

Classic car show/rally: Information not available.

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