Will events take too long to help Eagle? | AspenTimes.com
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Will events take too long to help Eagle?

Scott N. Miller
Vail correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

EAGLE, Colo. ” The town of Eagle, Colo. might benefit from some kind of big event, but Erin Seabury’s shop is real quiet right now.

A fledgling group of business owners in the western Colorado town met for the fourth time Thursday ” this time at the Pastatively Italian restaurant on Market Street ” to talk about ways to boost the town’s economy. The mission is becoming a bit more clear, but it already appears as if the job is going to turn into two jobs.

One one hand are business owners such as Joe Frasco, owner of Lights on Broadway, who believe some sort of big event can help boost the town’s image and economy.

Frasco invited longtime county resident Mike Lederhause to talk to the group about the prospect of bringing something like Michael Martin Murphy’s Westfest to town. That Labor Day weekend event, which includes music, arts and historic exhibitions, has been held at Copper Mountain, Steamboat Springs and even Vail for a year.

Lederhause has talked to Murphy recently ” the two are longtime friends ” and Murphy has said he’d be willing to talk to people in Eagle about a show or festival.

Something simple like a show could be done relatively inexpensively ” the artist and promoter would split ticket sales. It could also happen this fall. A festival, on the other hand, would require anywhere between $200,000 and $500,000 up front just for the musicians and couldn’t happen before 2010.

The problem is funding. Frasco and others want to ask voters to re-allocate money from the town’s open space fund ” which gets about $100,000 per year from a $2 town fee charged every night a local hotel room is occupied. There’s about $1 million in that fund at the moment.

But Eagle Town Manager Willy Powell replied that the open space money is being put to use for land acquisitions and maintenance, and argued that the town’s open space already provides an economic benefit to the town.

Even if money could be found for an event, any possible benefit to local business would be months away. Stores and restaurants are quiet today.

That’s why Erin Seabury, co-owner of Everyday Outfitters in Eagle, wants to talk about finding more customers, and doing it now.

She urged those at the meeting to go record a free promotional spot with NRC broadcasting.

“That’s an urgent thing we can do now,” she said.

And Tim Cochrane, former director of the Eagle Valley Chamber of Commerce, said a marketing campaign aimed at locals and people already visiting the valley could be put together for $40,000 or less.

But either a big event or a relatively modest campaign to urge residents to shop locally will need the same thing ” community involvement, and lots of it.

Those in favor of a big event said virtually everyone in town would have to take some role in making it happen.

But even something small “needs people willing to make the community great,” Seabury said. “We just need to find something and go for it.”

smiller@vaildaily.com


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