AVON — The town’s elected body would be happy to hear Marty Flanders’ assessment of Saturday’s Triple ByPass Ride’s finish area.
“It’s a beautiful setting, with lots to see and lots to do,” Flanders said after completing the 120-mile bike ride, which started in Evergreen and finished in Nottingham Park. “It makes you want to stay the weekend.”
About a year and a half ago, the town of Avon adopted a new strategic plan, which included a goal to become more event oriented in an effort to attract weekend visitors such as Flanders. To that end, Nottingham Park is Avon’s largest asset, and this summer we’re seeing that asset utilized with new events that aim to bring the same bustle to the park that Saturday’s Triple ByPass Ride finish corral enjoyed, hosting thousands.
“The park and the community can comfortably hold five to six thousand,” said Town Manager Virginia Egger. “So that’s the number we’re keeping in mind as some of these events look to grow.”
Egger said Red Cliff’s iconic Man of the Cliff lumberjack competition will come to Avon this fall, capping off a summer of exciting events in Nottingham Park.
“Man of the Cliff will be here the last week of September,” said Egger. “But that’s about all I can say about it at this point.”
$52K FROM WINTERWONDERGRASS
In February, the WinterWonderGrass Festival brought in 2,900 to 3,100 people per day to Nottingham Park, according to numbers released by the town of Avon.
Next year, that number is expected to grow to 4,800.
“For the month of February, you can’t say WinterWonderGrass gets all the credit, but it’s uncanny — we estimate about $35,000 in increased lodging and sales tax,” said Egger. “We also got our $2 fee for each ticket sold, totaling $17,000.”
Councilman Jake Wolf said he knew long before being elected that events like WinterWonderGrass Festival had the potential to succeed in Avon.
“That’s why I’m so excited that we have a program in place now, to get events like this off the ground.” he said. “This was exactly what I ran on. It feels so good to see it actually happening.”
WinterWonderGrass Festival was the first event in 2014 to take advantage of a $250,000 program Avon started this year to seed events at Nottingham Park. The program is simple: Event organizers approach the town, detail why they think their event has the potential to succeed and request funds.
The events that receive money are the ones who fit the town’s brand and image, and can convince the town they will continue to bring in people once the funding stops. Events will only receive the seed money for a few years, receiving less each year. WinterWonderGrass Festival received $50,000 in 2014 and, the recommendation from staff is that the event receives $40,000 in 2015.
“In my experience with WinterWonderGrass, working with the community and the town of Avon has been awesome,” Stoughton said. “From the staff and council down to the guys on the ground — police and fire — and all that makes it a very attractive venue to an event producer.”
To help event producers such as Stoughton cut down on costs, Avon plans to put a permanent stage in at Nottingham Park, with construction slated to start Aug. 19.
BRAVO! VAIL AND HIGHLINE
Others who approached Avon for 2014 event seed funding were event producers Bravo! Vail and Highline Sports and Entertainment.
Bravo! Vail, popular for being “the only festival in North America to host three of the world’s finest orchestras in a single season,” according to their promotional information, hosted their first-ever Avon concert at Nottingham Park last Thursday, and will host another this Thursday.
“It’s really exciting to be in Avon,” Bravo! Vail Director of Operations Elli Gauthier said on Thursday. “The Nottingham Park venue is amazing.”
Volunteering at that event was Nancy Nottingham, a member of the park’s namesake family.
“It’s wonderful to see the park being utilized for events like Bravo,” she said.
Thursday’s show will feature Celtic Jam Colcannon, who plays traditional Irish music in a contemporary style.
“I’ve seen a lot of the different members play — they’re fantastic,” said Gauthier. “But I’ve never seen them play together, I think it’s going to be an amazing show.”
Later this summer, event producers Highline Sports and Entertainment — popular locally for many Vail signature events (Snow Daze, Spring Back to Vail, Gourmet on Gore) — will bring Flavors of Colorado to Nottingham Park, a celebration of Colorado’s artists, culinary talent, musicians, craft brewers and distillers.
“The event is an opportunity to discover and celebrate a variety of Colorado artists and their craft,” said Egger.
It’s scheduled for Aug. 15-17.
And just as Nottingham Park is the town’s biggest asset, Nottingham Lake is the park’s biggest asset.
Clean and refreshing during the summer months, the lake is home to a multitude of recreational opportunities, but is most sought-after for the most basic of lake activities: Swimming. And as a result, Nottingham Park has become a haven for multidisciplinary sports that involve swimming, such as biathlons and triathlons.
The Xterra Mountain Championship, the Bec Tri and the weekly Dunk-n-Dash have all taken advantage of the fantastic access the lake provides for swimming (and a quick transition into biking or running), and local athletes enjoy the lake for practice sessions during open swim every Tuesday and Thursday evening.
Pro tri-athlete and Avon resident John O’Neill says part of the reason he settled on his lakeside residence was for the access it provides to Nottingham Park.
“When I was looking at options where I could live in the valley and came to the place I currently live in, I was immediately excited about how close it was to Nottingham Lake,” O’Neill said. “I can walk to the Dunk-n-Dash or open swim night and get a high-level of training in with other pros, and it’s basically in my backyard.”
O’Neill said the new vibe in Avon and Nottingham Park has him considering something more long-term than the one-year lease he’s currently on.
“Avon, especially this summer, really seems like the place to be with everything we have going on,” he said. “Eventually, I’d like to settle down and try to buy a home here.”