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Snow Ball may return to Avon next year

AVON, Colorado – If you asked a magic 8-ball, “Will there be a 2012 Snow Ball Music Festival in Avon?,” the answer might be: “Signs point to yes.”

Avon Town Council Tuesday gave a qualified, but unofficial, thumbs-up to holding the festival in town again next year. An official answer will probably come June 28, when Snow Ball promoters have been asked to give the council more information about things like transportation and, particularly, drug use and fan safety.

There were 48 arrests at this year’s event, most for drug use and underage drinking.

Promoters Chad Donnelly and Scott Staughton said those were at the top of the list of improvements they want to make to next year’s festival.

And Donnelly acknowleged that promoters made some cuts to their original security plan, primarily for financial reasons. He told council members that security would be a top priority for next year’s event. But, he added, drug and alcohol use is part of big events to at least some extent.

But, he said, “We’ll reach out to Red Rocks, the Denver police and other festivals to find out what they’re doing to help solve that problem.”

Donnelly also said he’s currently negotiating for parking space and transportation for next year’s festival.

Council member Amy Phillips suggested that a more musically diverse lineup might encourage some older people to attend, saying that young people tend to be a bit better-behaved when parents are around.

Donnelly and Staughton said they’re planning to include more rock, folks and bluegrass-type acts. And, responding to a comment from council member Chris Evans, said they’d consider earlier start and end times for the festival.

Phil Struve lives near Nottingham Lake, and has previously called the festival a “teenage drug fest.” Tuesday, he remained unimpressed with the idea of the festival or its return.

“I understand the benefits,” Struve said. “But goals have to be set and penalties assigned.”

Others praised the festival.

Rick Dameron, director of operations at the Christie Lodge, said the festival was great for that property.

“We had no problems, but we prepared for it. Those kids were better than the soccer and lacrosse kids,” Dameron said, adding that the only problem his lodge had was the lack of overnight parking.

Jake Wolf, the music teacher at Avon Elementary School, is a big fan of the festival. He told council members that Snow Ball could add educational opportunities, from music education to talking about drug use and drinking with high schoolers.

“We can really be a template for a great event,” Wolf said.

Before that happens, though, promoters and the town government need to forge agreements on several issues, including what kind of financial incentives the town might provide.

“As soon as we know we’re welcome back, we can work on the funding,” Donnelly said.


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