Avon locals express concern for events
AVON — The fact that WinterWonderGrass is up for negotiation for next year has some locals nervous.
On Tuesday, more than a dozen residents and stakeholders turned out at the regular meeting of the Avon Town Council to see what was happening with the popular bluegrass music festival, an annual February event that has been deemed the most successful of the town’s efforts to activate their new, $3.2 million dollar performance pavilion. Unfounded rumors that WinterWonderGrass was not returning to Avon have been circulating about the community recently.
Town manager Virginia Egger said she had been prepared for the meeting’s large turnout by festival producer Scotty Stoughton.
“He said ‘I want you to know I’m not a part of that,’” she said.
Egger said the terms of WinterWonderGrass 2017 are currently being worked out, and on a similar timeline to last year.
“(Stoughton) and I are negotiating for WinterWonderGrass in February of 2017,” she said. “It’s a negotiation that would open the door for 2018 and 2019. His agreement last year was before council in September, the final agreement was signed in December. We plan not to be here later than September; we hope to be here Aug. 9. That’s how the negotiations are going.”
Acknowledging the concern was based on false premises, Councilman Jake Wolf urged the council to hear out the group, nonetheless.
“Let these people say what they have to say, because they’re saying it to me, it’s coming through me and it’s not getting to you the right way,” Wolf said to his colleagues.
The first to speak was Tom Beaver, owner of Montana’s Smokehouse in Avon.
Beaver didn’t just express concern for the future of WinterWonderGrass, but events in general in Avon, using this weekend’s Outlaws & Legends country music festival — which ran through Saturday— as an example.
“I had lunch with (the Outlaws & Legends festival promoter), he expressed frustration at having to do more than a dozen reports, some of which are 15 pages plus,” Beaver said. “That’s sacrificing time that should be devoted to promotion rather than fulfill bureaucratic requirements that apparently are not at other events.”
Josh Frank, the owner of Minturn’s new Drive-In Movie Theater, said he tried to get in Avon for years before finding a better location in Minturn.
“It doesn’t matter because it all worked out and we’re here now (in Minturn),” Frank said. “But my one little suggestion is if you want to have more events … there’s smaller events that could bring cool stuff into Avon. I would love to bring my little drive-in to Avon one day, it’s going great in Minturn right now — but the reason Minturn worked, the reason Palmetto Bay (in Florida, where Frank has another drive-in) worked, is because there’s one piece of paper, and I signed it. It’s a one-page thing. If there would have been the one-page sign here, I could have done it here.”
WORK SESSION UPCOMING
Event producer Mike O’Brien, who is bringing the upcoming Avon Live free concert series to town Wednesdays in August, said he understands the constraints put on producers.
“Sometimes, some of the paperwork may seem onerous,” he said. “But there’s a fine line in protecting your interests, because the one time something goes sideways, that’s what you have to rely on, that paperwork.”
As a result of the concerns from the community, the Avon Council directed staff to schedule a work session to further discuss the issue.
“I’m happy that there is a work session,” O’Brien said. “I can’t say enough about the staff, really, remarkably good. I think, in general, things are solid, you just need to work on the edges to refine it.”
On July 1, flights will begin using new $35 million facility which includes four jet bridges