Guest commentary: Food & Wine Classic remains big boost for Aspen in many ways |

Guest commentary: Food & Wine Classic remains big boost for Aspen in many ways

Debbie Braun
Guest commentary

Aspen is recognized as one of the most attractive visitor destinations in the country and has developed strong recognition internationally. The exceptional events that take place in our town are significant drivers of Aspen’s recognition and economic success. These successes have led to a vibrant economy, an expansion of employment options, important contributions to the city’s tax base, and an expanded array of quality-of-life amenities for residents.

Congratulations to Jazz Aspen Snowmass (JAS) on a successful new format for the JAS June Experience that features jazz artists from around the world in intimate venues around downtown Aspen. The new format of the concerts is a great way to showcase our local businesses and create vibrancy in our downtown core. Similarly, we are in the midst of Aspen Ideas Festival, an important event that brings in thousands of influential people from around the world to Aspen. Thank you to Aspen Institute for hosting the week’s seminars which bring visitors to town and encourage thoughtful participation.

We also want to thank the community and Food & Wine magazine for another great event — the 37th annual Food & Wine Classic, which kicks off the Aspen summer season annually. The Classic fills Aspen’s hotel rooms, condominiums, rental homes, restaurants and special events venues with official events as well as dozens of ancillary events.

Thank you to the community for embracing our Classic guests, to the hundreds of volunteers who make the Classic run, to our staff and to those at Food & Wine and Meredith Media who put in endless hours to ensure that the event runs smoothly and safely — and is, of course, incredibly fun.

The Food & Wine Classic is of immeasurable importance to the community and is the envy of destination resorts around the world. The quantity of press coverage the event brings, as well as countless social media posts, are invaluable to our town, as the coverage is seen by millions and driving future business to Aspen. As far as economic benefit, this event kicks off the summer season two weeks ahead of our competitors. It brings job opportunities to Roaring Fork Valley locals: from landscapers to security details, food and beverage positions to retail opportunities, to lodging support and more. Additionally, the Classic is a large sales tax generator, which benefits our entire community by funding everything from flowers in our public spaces to public transportation and affordable housing programs.

Wagner Park will be open again Friday after a three-week closure. We want to thank Jeff Woods and his team at the City of Aspen Parks Department for their stellar work in getting the park back in shape so quickly. Over the past 37 years, ACRA, Food & Wine, and the Parks Department have worked through 13 iterations of how best to return Wagner Park. Our current process is a collaborative effort that ensures the public can enjoy the park as soon as possible post event.

The Food & Wine Classic is just one of the events that makes Aspen Defy Ordinary. While this event is one of our highest grossing and sets the stage for a vibrant summer, events such as the Aspen Ideas Festival and JAS Aspen, as well as our smaller events including our art shows and athletic competitions, drive visitors to the resort and stimulate our economy. At the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, we strive to support our local economy in the most innovative way possible — and we are proud to say the Food & Wine Classic is leading the charge.

Debbie Braun is the president and CEO of the Aspen Chamber Resort Association.