Avon loses Labor Day Nottingham Park event
AVON — Town officials will take up a work session Sept. 21 at 5 p.m. to examine events.
News broke last week that the town has lost its Labor Day weekend event planned for Nottingham Park and Pavilion, the Skylight Creative Writers Retreat, and that the popular WinterWonderGrass music festival would be leaving town for good.
With ticket sales not going as well as hoped, the Skylight Creative Writers Retreat is expected to be rescheduled for next spring.
Town Manager Virginia Egger said at the council’s Tuesday meeting that she’s working directly with event producer Don Donahue to make the writer’s retreat a success in 2017.
“By agreeing to this date change, it speaks volumes that we all are committed to an exceptional experience for attendees that is well-attended,” Donahue said in a release.
‘JUST NOTHING THERE’
The idea, as stated by town Mayor Jennie Fancher, was to expand the use of the pavilion beyond music.
“The Town Council has planted the vision of expanded cultural opportunities at the Pavilion, and the Skylight Creative Writing Retreat will bring diversity to our already burgeoning music festivals,” Fancher said last spring.
With both a burgeoning music festival and the Labor Day cultural event no longer happening at Nottingham Park, it would seem a work session on events is in order. The scheduling of the Sept. 21 events work session, however, was directed to staff by the council before the news had broke of either event not happening.
In a “heads up” moment, councilman Jake Wolf asked citizens to show up to the July 26 meeting and detail the importance of events in Avon. At that time, Egger assured the council that negotiations with WinterWonderGrass producers were going well. Amy Hunter, who owns homes near the lake, said she wants to see the pavilion more utilized.
“I just really would like to see more things happen there, more availability,” she said. “I sit on my back porch and there’s just nothing there.”
It’s a point councilman Matt Gennett has been saying for months in relation to spending in town. Last year, when news broke that there was $1.5 million in the 2016 budget to purchase the Skier Building for the relocation of Town Hall, Gennett said he would rather see the money spent on activating the pavilion.
“We spent $3.7 million on the stage, and now that it’s here, it will need hundreds of thousands more in programming and operation,” Gennett said. “That’s where we should be investing.”
Egger said that in the three years Avon has increased its efforts to provide seed funding for events, only one has reached the fourth year and been profitable, and that’s WinterWonderGrass.
The failures have been numerous. Organizers of ticketed events like the 2015 Cielito Lindo and this year’s Outlaws & Legends festivals were hoping for attendance in the thousands, and they had to settle for attendance in the hundreds. Free events have been far from a sure thing, with weather causing trouble at Bravo! Vail and Man of the Cliff events and the free concert associated with the now-defunct Flavors of Colorado festival failing to attract an audience.
“It takes a long time to build some of these events, and we’re in that process,” Egger said. “Some of them have not had the population we had hoped, but they were first year events.”
The Sept. 21 work session will include a full staff report on events, and the public is welcome to attend.
“We look forward to the direction we need,” Egger said.