Merchants look forward to busy Lionshead weekend
VAIL, Colorado – With a large chunk of special events in Vail held on the east side of town – in Vail Village and Ford Park – weekends like this with big events in Lionshead Village tend to make Lionshead merchants happy.Dennis Foley is one of them. The deck at his restaurant and bar, Bart & Yeti’s, was almost packed Friday afternoon – the business boost is partly due to the Vail Arts Festival in Lionshead this weekend.”We love the Arts Festival,” Foley said. “The Arts Festival is always good, every year.”Foley said it’s hard to complain about the split of events between Vail Village and Lionshead, which he acknowledges isn’t exactly even, because Lionshead does have the only access onto Vail Mountain during summer months. The gondola alone brings a lot of people into Lionshead, he said. “It never is (an even split), so that’s something Lionshead (merchants) have to work toward,” Foley said. Laurie Asmussen, the Vail Arts Festival’s organizer, said the festival fits in with Lionshead perfectly and can’t imagine it being held anywhere else.Asmussen has been involved with the festival for 12 years and has seen Lionshead go through its ups and downs, but the festival has always remained there.The Lionshead parking structure is under construction this year as the town of Vail builds a new transit and welcome center, but the construction isn’t bad compared to what the festival has dealt with in past years.Asmussen said the festival lived through the Arrabelle construction and even set up out on the street during that time.”(Lionshead) seems to have construction year after year,” Asmussen said. “It’s so nice to have the Arrabelle project completed. It allows a larger area to have the artists concentrated so people can browse through really the bulk of Lionshead.”This weekend there are 70 artists sprinkled throughout Lionshead, including 13 different artistic mediums.”There’s some amazing work out here,” Asmussen said.
Lionshead has its challenges as a large event venue, said Sybill Navas, the town of Vail’s special events coordinator. The Lionshead mall isn’t very big and it can be a challenge to make events viable for event producers, she said. “We need the events to be successful or they don’t come back,” Navas said. The town’s Commission on Special Events tries to make the town of Vail’s events schedule as fair as possible, but Navas said there will likely always be more events in Vail Village just because it can accommodate more people and equipment.”The reality is it will never be equal because of the nature of the (venues),” Navas said.But some events feel right at home in Lionshead. Asmussen said the area is relatively flat and easy to get to. “(The Vail Arts Festival) fits nicely in here. It makes an interesting place to put booths,” she said. “They’ve done such a great job (with Lionshead) and the Festival really has found its home here.”Business owners felt some love from the town of Vail this year as it changed its summer parking policies, though. Cars are no longer allowed to park along the South Frontage Road for events unless both the Vail Village and Lionshead parking structures are full – the same policy the town has during winter months. The new rules mean cars have to park in Lionshead, even if people are going to an event as east as Ford Park. The new parking rules have already brought more foot traffic through Lionshead, Foley said. Vail Resorts also extended its gondola operation hours during weekdays, which Foley said will be a big help to local merchants. Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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