The nuts and bolts of a Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience
Town officials gearing up for a Labor Day just like any other — music festival and all
After last year’s pandemic hiatus, the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience is back in Snowmass Village with a lineup that includes Kings of Leon, Sheryl Crow and Jimmy Buffett.
The venue has a capacity of 10,000 attendees, and while no day is completely sold out yet, “we are getting close,” Jazz Aspen Snowmass senior vice president Andrea Beard said in an Aug. 26 phone call.
And if projected occupancy statistics are any indication, it will be just like any other music-filled Labor Day in town, said Rose Abello, the town’s tourism director.
‘“I think we’re on track for a normal Labor Day weekend,” Abello said in an Aug. 30 phone interview.
Heads in (almost all the) beds
As of mid-August (the latest occupancy report Abello had available was Aug. 15), occupancy for the weekend was already at 90% for Friday night, 93% for Saturday night and 90% for Sunday, with those numbers expected to increase a bit by the time the weekend rolls around, Abelo said.
With the anticipated uptick, the Labor Day holiday stats will be par for the course for a typical year in Snowmass Village, when festival-weekend occupancy usually tracks between 90% and 95% full. (For comparison, the highest occupancy rates in peak winter season top out around 97%; a few extraneous factors like rooms out of service and check-in patterns make it hard to reach completely full occupancy, according to Abello.)
The return to normal also will be a marked improvement over the festival-less Labor Day Weekend in 2020, when occupancy came in at 59% on Friday, 79% on Saturday and 67% on Sunday.
Ensuring upward of 10,000 concertgoers (plus staff, volunteers and village residents) can get to and around the village is no small feat; there will be impacts to car access and bolstered bus schedules throughout the weekend.
First up: Brush Creek Road will be closed for a stretch that spans from Town Park Station to just before Horse Ranch Road. Those who are driving up Brush Creek Road toward the main hubs of the village will be rerouted onto Highline Road at the roundabout and must then take Owl Creek Road into town.
Nearly full lodging in the village means fuller parking lots near the Snowmass Mall, according to the town’s transportation director David Peckler.
The town hopes to preserve parking in the numbered lots for lodging guests, so Peckler encourages concertgoers (and others who want to head into town by car) to park at the Brush Creek Park and Ride and take a Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus up to the village.
“We just encourage people to use their alternative modes of transportation. You know, use the Brush Creek Park and Ride facility,” Peckler said. “I’m sure RFTA will do everything they can to make their experience adequate.”
High occupancy also means more demand for bus services around town, so the Snowmass Shuttle is ramping up service to accommodate the demand.
“We’re going to add some internal local service to move people around the village,” Peckler said in an Aug. 30 phone call.
That will likely include a fixed Route 1 bus between the Snowmass Mall and Woodbridge (it’s usually on-demand only in the summer) and double the “floaters” connecting to Top of the Village and some Wood Road properties. Route 3 to the Snowmass Club and Route 8 to Horse Ranch will continue to run, but expect that there may be delays due to added traffic and the festival-related road closure on Brush Creek Road.
Snowmass Shuttle buses will not provide transportation to the festival entrance at any point during the weekend. That transit is under the purview of RFTA in collaboration with Jazz Aspen Snowmass and will include festival-specific shuttles, according to the Jazz Aspen Snowmass website.
From Rubey Park in Aspen, concertgoers can hop on JAS shuttles; from downvalley, concertgoers can take the regularly scheduled RFTA buses to the Brush Creek Park and Ride, then look for JAS shuttles departing from the northeast side of the parking lot. (This is not the usual bus stop to Snowmass.)
JAS Shuttles also will operate in Snowmass Village to take people from stops in the village to the festival entrance, and to transport VIP ticket holders from parking in Two Creeks to the festival. Look for school buses and RFTA buses for these shuttles.
Shuttles will run continuously from one hour before doors open and through the egress from the concert. Masks are required on all public transportation.
Outside the venue
Those who aren’t attending the music festival and attendees who want to get a bit of exercise in before the music starts will still have access to most (but not all) recreation facilities and trails in town.
The soccer and softball fields in Town Park will be out of commission for the weekend, according to Snowmass Village parks, recreation and trails director Andy Worline.
The playground in Town Park will be open to the public but will be difficult to get to because of the festival layout, Worline said; residents in the neighborhoods behind Town Park (like Horse Ranch and Coffey Place) will have the easiest access to the playground.
The recreation center will remain open and will operate on its regular hours throughout the weekend, according to Worline. There will be 20 reserved two-hour parking spaces in Town Park for rec center users, he said, but with the festival using most of the Town Park and Rodeo lots, don’t expect other spaces to open up.
Parking also will be extremely limited for trail recreation throughout the weekend. The Town Park and Rodeo lots, typically the launchpad for access to Sky Mountain Park and the North Rim and Seven Star trails, will not be open to riders and hikers; same goes for the Two Creeks lot that provides access to the Owl Creek Trail, as that lot will be used for VIP parking for the festival.
The high occupancy rates at lodging facilities in the Village also will mean less parking up in the numbered lots on Carriage Way.
“It’s really better if somebody was wanting to come (to recreate or access trails) to possibly walk or ride their bike. … Trailhead parking will be an issue,” Worline said.
More ample parking at Buttermilk and the Brush Creek Park and Ride also can provide access to Sky Mountain Park via Airline and Cozyline, respectively.
The festival venue itself will look “pretty similar” to years past, according to Beard – just with more sanitation stations, handwashing stations and encouraged (but not required) 6-foot distancing.
The festival requires proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of the festival for entry.
On Friday, concertgoers can verify their vaccination status or test status at the Brush Creek Park and Ride from noon to 7 p.m., at the festival entrance starting at noon and at a kiosk on the lawn of the Red Brick Arts Center in Aspen from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., according to Beard.
On Saturday and Sunday, verification takes place only at the Brush Creek Park and Ride and at the festival entrance, both starting at noon.
Testing administered by Slopeside Labs is available at the Red Brick on Friday only and all three days at the Brush Creek Park and Ride. Those tests have a quick turnaround and cost $35 in advance or $45 for walk-ups.
Visit jazzaspensnowmass.org/updated-covid-19-entry-requirements-for-the-labor-day-experience-sept-3-5 for more information on entry requirements.
The Aspen Skiing Co. announced Tuesday that its Premier Pass, which comes with unlimited skiing and no blackout dates, is now available for $1,699 to chamber members if it’s purchased by the super-early deadline of Sept. 16.
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