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No blues with these travelers

Kaye Ferry

Everyone had a right to be concerned. It was anticipated to be the largest-drawing concert ever held in Vail Village. And there’ve been some big ones.

So we all knew that something huge was about to happen in the village. The good news about that was – how does the saying go? – forewarned is forearmed. So forearmed we were.

Merchants were contacted. The event producers upped the normal count of security. Police and fire scheduled extra staff for the time frame.



The result? I did some research Monday. The police found the crowd to be well behaved. They reported very few incidents – probably fewer than occur on a typical Saturday night in Vail.

As for the business community, I did not speak to everyone. but I did do a walkabout on Bridge Street and Gore Creek Drive. The results were enormously positive, with comments like “our day rivaled Christmas”; “sales were rockin'”; “fantastic”; “great-beat last year’s numbers by almost double.” Even the lodge that had been extremely critical beforehand had no issues whatsoever.



There are many ways of gauging the success of an event. If fun is a criteria, it seems we hit a home run. Everyone I talked to came away with the feeling that stuffy old Vail might not be so stuffy after all.

People came up from Denver to ski for the day with the advance plan of staying for the concert. Some even stayed for the night. They spent some time shopping and dining, both before and after. The bars and restaurants were hopping, and retailers had people in their shops at a time when business isn’t usually booming. So if generating sales was part of the criteria, home run two.

As for Vail Resorts, their significant sponsorship was provided to help drive skier numbers at this time of the year and indeed their numbers were “more than anticipated.” Home run three.



I think there were also a number of other factors that figured in to creating the event. I know that as part of the team that originated the concept, we were all trying to bring a new vitality to spring in Vail, a time when reservations have typically been low and sales dwindling.

We were motivated by some ideas we picked up while visiting other resorts in 2000-01 on a series of trips that came to be known as the “peer resort” tour. One of our neighbors north of the Canadian border had such a successful spring promotion aimed at locals – both current and those who had been locals in a previous life – that we decided to tap into that idea.

We timed our first year to coincide with Vail’s 40th anniversary celebration and used it as the finale event. Spring Back to Vail was expanded to cover two weekends, with this year’s ski season culminating with the second annual World Pond Skimming Championships at Golden Peak next Saturday, followed by a Clarence Clemons concert. For those of you who don’t recognize that name, he’s the sax player with the Bruce Springsteen band, E Street.

So I’d guess, all in all, we had a grand slam. The merchants had a great night; Vail Resorts had increased skier numbers; the TOV had increased sales tax; and the guests had a GREAT time.

This is exactly what we set out to do. We proved that the season isn’t over in March. There’s still life in “them thar hills,” even as the Easter Bunny is hiding his (her) eggs. Highline Sports deserves credit for pulling it off. They did their homework and prepared for the worst. Only it never came. They had the help of the town, particularly the police department, and produced an almost flawless first weekend of the event.

Maybe in the future, if we stop being naysayers before we even give things a chance, we can actually stay ahead of the curve. Because of one thing, I am absolutely sure, events like this make us the envy of other Rocky Mountain ski resorts. Any one of them would have killed for such an event last weekend. Never mind that it was free to boot. As usual, our biggest problem seems to be that we get in our own way.

PREMIER IMPRESSIONS: Another rollicking success story! For the final prize of $5,000, 10 names were drawn and eliminated down to five. They were then given the option of going on or splitting the money five ways. Last year, the group said no to the split at 5, 4 ,3 and 2. This year’s bunch decide a sure thing was better than no thing, at all so they took the first offer. As a result, there were five winners at $1,000 each.

FOURTH OF JULY: There will be a new discussion of the appropriateness of holding the Farmers Market on the Fourth of July. A hearing had been rescheduled for this Thursday (tomorrow) at 4 in the Town Council chambers. The topic had not been legally noticed when the decision was made to overturn the staff’s recommendations.

WHAT IS THE DEFINITION OF IS? I normally don’t comment on national politics in this column, but so help me , I couldn’t resist. Last week, Condoleeza Rice gave sworn public testimony about 9/11. Next to follow her into the room was none other than Bill Clinton. His testimony was given privately. They made note, however, that his testimony was not given under oath. Somebody finally figured out what an insult it is to the Bible to expect him to tell the truth about anything. So they just skipped the formality.

Cars on the Frontage Road: Saturday, 350.

To contact the Town Council, call 479-1860, ext. 8, or e-mail towncouncil@vailgov.com. To contact Vail Resorts, call 476-5601 or e-mail vailinfo@vailresorts.com. For past columns, vaildaily.com-columnists or search:ferry.

Kaye Ferry is a longtime observer of Vail government. She writes a weekly column for the Daily.


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