VAIL — One more summer music series is coming to Vail. This one is a summer bluegrass concert series, set for Wednesdays in Lionshead.
The Vail Town Council on Tuesday approved a one-time contribution of $50,000 to the new festival. The money will be pulled from the town’s general fund reserve account. The move came during a discussion of the Vail Commission on Special Events 2013 events and request for approval of the commission’s 2014 spending plan.
The bluegrass series will be added to the commission’s proposal to spend $843,300 on events in 2014.
Events have become a crucial part of the town’s summer and winter economy during the past five years, and council member Margaret Rogers said the special events group is doing a much better job than it was just a few years ago.
‘Level Of Sophistication’
Rogers praised the commission’s “level of sophistication” in determining how to allocate money to promote both new and existing events that draw people to town, saying she’s “much more comfortable” with the process today than just a few years ago.
The idea of drawing people was one key element to the pitch for the bluegrass event.
While the series will be on Wednesdays, supporters of the festival on the council said bluegrass fans they know are willing to travel to see their favorite performers.
Concert series promoter Ariel Rosenberg said he plans to bring some of those favorites to Vail. The most notable name he mentioned was Sam Bush, a renowned mandolin player and former member of the legendary Newgrass Revival. Bush is also known as the “King of Telluride” for his almost-annual appearances at that town’s bluegrass festival.
More events in Lionshead
In addition to big names with the potential to draw fans from around the state, other council members said the town needs to have more events in Lionshead.
“This is building Lionshead as a good music venue,” commission member Rayla Kundolf said. “It would also build a (tourist) stream in the middle of the week — people are going to come on weekends anyway.”
Council member Dave Chapin said he was willing to support the request, both for its potential and as a way of listening to Lionshead merchants, who have long asked for more events in that part of town.
“I heard the (Lionshead advisory) committee loud and clear,” Chapin said. “Of every (recommendation) they came forward with, this is the one that makes the most sense. And bluegrass festivals are huge.”
Mayor Andy Daly said he supported the idea of the concert series, but he worried about yet another dip into the town’s reserve funds.
“I question our level of responsibility with our willingness to spend freely out of those reserves,” Daly said before casting the sole dissenting vote against funding the festival.
Rogers said funding the bluegrass event from reserves could be a one-time expense from reserves.
“If it’s a bust, it goes away,” she said. But, she added, if the event is a success, then she wants as much advance notice as possible before the council’s 2015 budget discussions so money could be found from regular revenue sources.
“I question our level of responsibility with our willingness to spend freely out of those reserves.”
Mayor of Vail