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Wine Festival moving to Town Park

Jill Beathard
Snowmass Sun

Another event formerly held in the Snowmass Village Mall is moving to Town Park this summer.

The Snowmass Village Town Council on July 15 approved a permit for Snowmass Rotary to use the town soccer fields for its annual Wine Festival fundraiser. The Balloon Festival already is held close by on the Snowmass Club golf course, and this year a Ferrari show also will take place on the soccer fields in conjunction with the other events.

“After 11 years, we’re growing, and 700 people doesn’t hack it anymore on the mall,” said festival co-chairman Randy Woods. “And for us to make a little more money and pass it to the nonprofits up and down the valley, … we need a bigger space.”

The Wine Festival will run from 2 to 5 p.m., after which the balloon night glow will start at 6 p.m. The night glow will be shifted from Town Park to Fanny Hill.

“The chance for winds that come down the hill is greater than we have down in Town Park,” said group sales director Fred Brodsky. “But we feel it’s important for that evening push back up into the core.”

The Mammoth Fest, formerly the Chili Pepper and Brew Fest, also moved to Town Park this summer after being held for 10 years on Fanny Hill and the Snowmass Village Mall.

Mayor Bill Boineau said he was concerned about moving the Wine Festival, too, especially based on some comments he heard from merchants after the Mammoth Fest.

“Some of the mall folks were a little disappointed,” Boineau said. “But I also heard from people during the event. A lot of people who came were really pleased and really excited and hope to see it grow.”

“It’s kind of hard for us to expand at all,” Woods said. “Otherwise we stay at 700 and never grow, and we’ll start charging more than $70, I guess.”

From Brodsky’s perspective, the move improves the quality of events Snowmass has to offer.

“For me, it’s about creating world-class events,” Brodsky said. “I think we have a lot of the tools. We certainly have the backdrop to do so, and it’s about putting the pieces together the proper way to create events that will motivate people to drive in from the Front Range and fly in from further destinations.”

Councilman Jason Haber did not support the move, based on the same concerns Boineau voiced.

“I’ve definitely heard from folks that Mammoth Fest was ultimately a negative (for merchants),” Haber said. “I feel like approving this and taking this out of the town core is not a move in the right direction.”

Woods asked Haber if he had ever attended the Wine Festival, and he replied that he had not.

“Hardly anyone during that time period goes into the businesses at all,” Woods said.

Councilwoman Markey Butler, who is also a Rotarian, said one year the club tried having merchants put their wares out on the mall during the festival.

“It didn’t work at all,” she said. “People come to the event to drink wine and to have their hors d’oeuvres.”

She asked if merchants could set up tents on the soccer field this year. Woods said it was possible but that it might take away from the tasting.

“This seems like an evolution in terms of our thinking,” Haber said. “We’re staging events in Town Park as opposed to the town core, and from the representatives I’m hearing from that are in the town core, that’s seen as a negative. So I’m curious as to why we see that as a positive evolution.”

“I don’t know that you’ve heard from everyone,” Brodsky said. “Of course the negative people are vocal, but there’s a lot of merchants up there that had a positive experience for Mammoth. … I have emails.”

Brodsky also contended that the event is structured to benefit Snowmass businesses.

“The night glow is extremely well- attended,” Brodsky said. “I feel that by moving that up to the core area, we’re going to achieve what we want to at a great time, at 6 o’clock, when people are going out to dinner after they’ve been to the Wine Festival. And I think at the end of the day we’re trying to make events that will make people (come) here and stay here.”

Brodsky told the council that the Wine Festival happening in conjunction with the car show was a big draw for the Ferrari club that is visiting that weekend. The club has sold out its block at the Viceroy, and the car owners will likely buy 10 percent of the Wine Festival tickets, Brodsky said.

Butler said the town should incentivize merchants to stay open late that weekend, a time of year when they usually close early.

Councilman Chris Jacobson said he thought staging the events in Town Park was a good use of that property.

The council approved the permit, 3-1, with Butler abstaining.

jbeathard@snowmasssun.com


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