EAGLE COUNTY — There are already upwards of 90 events in Vail every year. Some people say even that isn’t enough.
At a recent chamber roundtable hosted by the Vail Valley Partnership, representatives from business organizations up and down the valley talked about ways they’re trying to build more economic activity. Several people said they’re looking at bringing more events.
But when does a valley have too many events? Telluride, with something going on virtually every summer weekend, has a “nothing festival” — a reaction to festival fever — in which the main activity is a naked bike ride. But it’s hard to maintain nothing — this year’s non-event had to share the town with yoga.
Brian Nolan, whose company owns several restaurants in Vail and Beaver Creek, said he’ll know when the valley has too many events: “When it’s hard to get a reservation in my restaurants in September.”
Nolan isn’t alone. In an interview for another story earlier this year, former Vail Mayor Bob Armour said we’ll know we have too many events when there’s parking on the town’s frontage roads five days a week.
Neither of those things have happened yet, so people keep looking for ways to draw both local residents and tourists for everything from symphonic concerts in Vail to mushroom-picking in Eagle.
Sarah Franke works for Nolan, and represents the company on the Lionshead merchants association.
Franke said that group is looking at more events for Lionshead. While specifics are still being worked out, Franke said there’s an opportunity in tying more activities to the annual return of the Colorado Grand charity road rally. That rally every year ends with a display of the cars throughout Lionshead Village.
“The focus is enhancing and having quality events ... that appeal to a broad audience,” Franke said.
Nolan, too, focused on “quality” events that fit the character of the areas in which they’re held.
Town of Vail Special Events coordinator Sybill Navas agreed that events need to be appropriate in size. It’s much easier to hold a big event when Solaris plaza in Vail Village is the venue.
Events in Lionshead next year will draw particular attention from the town’s Commission on Special Events, which next year will have about $860,000 in seed money to start and maintain events.
While the commission looks at new events, it’s also looking at the calendar and other communities or neighborhoods.
“Certain big events in one community can take away from another (event) — there are times we make a choice,” Navas said.
The Vail group is also well aware of holes in the calendar that could use a little more business. Memorial Day weekend is a constant focus, Navas said, as is the end of August, in the weeks between the start of school in many Front Range districts and Labor Day.
To do that, the group looks at what might draw people to the valley during those times and is now focusing on mid-weeks.
Navas said there are weekends in Vail in which the town’s parking, lodging and other infrastructure is “maxed out.”
“Labor Day is there,” she said. “Now the question is how we can get more mileage out of that.”
The other question, of course, is how to get more people into those slower weekends, including Memorial Day and the first several weeks of ski season and January between New Year’s Day and the Martin Luther King Jr. Monday holiday.
But not just anything will fit that template, Navas said.
“Our goal is to focus on what we’re doing well,” she said.
“Certain big events in one community can take away from another (event) — there are times we make a choice.”
Town of Vail special events coordinator