‘More than music’ festival proposed in Vail
VAIL — This town and popular culture often have an uneasy relationship — as any number of concert-related police reports will confirm. A festival proposed for the summer of 2017 may alter that relationship.
The Vail Valley Foundation has been working since the fall of 2015 with Bryan Gordon and other founders of KAABOO, a festival that the founders believe is the future of events aimed at a diverse, upscale audience. Vail town staff have been involved in the discussions, and on Tuesday, the Vail Town Council got its first public look at what could happen in town the weekend of Aug. 18-20 next year. That would be roughly the weekend that the now-moribund USA Pro Challenge cycle races would roll through the state.
KAABOO’s initial event was held in September 2015 in Del Mar, California, a community near San Diego. The three-day festival included music from performers ranging from 1990s hit-makers No Doubt to newer acts including Grace Potter and Fitz & the Tantrums.
More than music
Besides music, the first KAABOO featured fine art, culinary exhibitions and numerous comedy performers.
The first KAABOO went well enough that a second festival is scheduled to take place in September of this year.
KAABOO also seems on firm enough footing that the Vail Valley Foundation is looking seriously at a partnership.
“It’s rare that the Vail Valley Foundation has entered into an alliance with another party,” foundation CEO Mike Imhof said. “But (KAABOO) aligns with the Vail brand.” Imhof added that the KAABOO idea has the potential to be global in scale and has the possibility of a long life. It could also have a long-term, significant economic impact for the town, Imhof said.
As Gordon detailed the vision for KAABOO in Vail, he described it as trying to combine some of the qualities of the W hotel group with that of the Four Seasons brand, combining elements of a respite from day-to-day life with top-flight guest service.
“Nothing like this exists today,” Gordon said.
That also applies to the guest demographic. Gordon said that KAABOO tries to create something to appeal to people his age (54) and those like his 23-year-old daughter.
Gordon said the events at a Vail KAABOO would look for local, regional and national talent and products, and would be supported by a host of sponsors. The sponsor list from the first event was roughly 50 brands deep, and included Mercedes-Benz, Nordstrom and Hendrick’s Gin.
There would be similar sponsor involvement in Vail, he said, adding that he didn’t expect to ask the town for contributions much beyond in-kind services provided by staff and employees.
While there’s still a lot to define about a Vail version of KAABOO, council members were generally receptive to the idea.
“We’ve been looking for an iconic (summer) event, and this could be it,” council member Dick Cleveland said. But, he added, the festival as it’s now envisioned would close off big portions of Ford Park in the middle of summer. That could be a significant stumbling block, he said.
Gordon said the festival wouldn’t close the entire park.
In a similar vein, council member Kevin Foley asked about preserving the grass fields from what the thousands of people who would be gathered for the events. Gordon replied that there are proven turf covers that protect natural grass and allow it to grow while covered.
Given the reception, this is likely to be the first of several public meetings about KAABOO. That could be the start of what Gordon called a year -round economic benefit from the festival, mostly in terms of festival organizers and other advance people preparing for the next event.
“I’m intrigued,” council member Greg Moffet said, adding that he’s not usually a fan of music festivals. “But it’s a great weekend (for the festival),” he added, noting that occupancy is usually lower than peak summer periods during that part of August.
That’s no accident, Imhof said.
“It took about five months to zero in on the weekend we chose,” he said.
Despite potential problems, Cleveland said finding ways around those problems is worth the effort.
“The potential is huge,” he said.
The proposed deal would be a three-way agreement between the town, the developer and the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District.