Events drawing more September visitors
Here’s a brief, incomplete look at events coming later in September.
• Sept. 11-13: Oktoberfest, Vail Village.
• Sept. 18-20: Oktoberfest, Lionshead.
• Sept. 11-12: Rendezvous Music Festival, Beaver Creek.
• Sept. 19: Colorado Grand “Concours d’Non Elegance,” Lionshead.
• Sept. 26: Vail Outlier Off-Road Festival.
EAGLE COUNTY — September used to mark the start of the fall quiet season in the Vail Valley. No more. A look at the weekend calendar for the month shows a schedule packed with events from Oktoberfests to car shows.
Sybil Navas is the town of Vail’s special events coordinator and a longtime resident. Navas said for a quite a while, Vail’s popular Oktoberfest celebrations were about it for September fun, even counting Labor Day.
“We were looking to build Labor Day, but the market wasn’t very big,” Navas said. “Labor Day was kind of a holiday hole.”
Over the years, things started to change. The Vail Jazz Party started drawing enthusiastic audiences in the mid-1990s, and the annual Colorado Grand classic car rally has had its annual end-of-the-week car show at either Beaver Creek or Lionshead Village since the late 1980s.
But, Navas said, it’s only been in the past several years that Labor Day and September have become progressively more active. That’s been helped over the past few years by the Vail Farmers’ Market & Art Show stretching through the entire month, as well as other events. The Vail Jazz Party has also seen more growth over the past several years, Navas said.
“At this point, September may have more events than August,” Navas said. “Really, once the (Vail Dance Festival) is over, there’s about a three-week lull.”
The event calendar will get more active in Vail at the end of September with the inaugural Outlier Off-Road Festival, a weekend of mountain bike racing and gear demonstrations.
“We’re kind of excited about (Outlier),” Navas said. “We think it could really turn into something.”
WHEN THE ASPENS TURN
As September events have grown, Antlers Lodge General Manager Rob LeVine said his occupancy and revenue numbers reflect that increased activity. The Antlers’ gross revenue the past few years is about double what it was in the middle of the previous decade, LeVine said.
On the other hand, even that better revenue picture for September is still about half the Antler’s revenue for July and about 12 percent of the revenue in March.
Hyatt Regency Beaver Creek General Manager Robert Purdy said the spring and fall months depend in large part on conventions, weddings and other groups, with vacation travelers accounting for a smaller share.
Still, those vacationers tend to travel on weekends, while business groups tend to book during weekdays. Weekend visitors come when the aspens turn, of course, as well as for events including this weekend’s Oktoberfest, as well as events such as the upcoming Rendezvous Music Festival and a German car festival.
“The more (events) we have, the better,” Purdy said. “These events draw different audiences, adding to the resort’s appeal.”
LeVine and Purdy both said the late summer and early autumn have also started to become a busier time for wedding parties. As July and August events fill more rooms, LeVine said wedding parties often have to look at other pages on the calendar.
“Brides call and they can’t find a place,” LeVine said. “Then they say, ‘Why don’t we talk about September?’”
Purdy said his hotel is starting to see more weddings in October and even into the winter. Still, September is generally one of the best months to be in the valley.
Coyote Cafe General Manager Buzz Busby called Friday from that restaurant’s space at the Oktoberfest celebration. Busby, a 30-year valley resident, said he’s seen the growth in September events. That growth has been much appreciated, he said.
“We just continually work on our shoulder seasons,” Busby said. “We’ve always had our ‘tree’ weekends, but the (Beaver Creek) Resort Co. is working hard to bring more to that.”
While September will be a busy month, people in the hospitality business are already looking ahead.
“We’re already getting ready for the World Cup (ski races in December),” Busby said. “It’s going to be here before you know it.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org and @scottnmiller.