Summer events get under way in valley
May 24, 2012
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – Events are now the official currency of summer tourism in mountain resorts, and Vail has been one of the industry leaders. But with the first holiday weekend of summer looming, Vail’s calendar is empty.Vail will host some sort of event every weekend between the beginning of June and the end of September. But for Memorial Day, the only big event in Vail or Beaver Creek is the Beav’s Blues, Brews & BBQ, an event now in its ninth year. Meanwhile, Campout for the Cause is taking place this weekend at State Bridge.During the ski season, a Memorial Day event for Vail was announced with great fanfare – an “adventure race” called Mojo Man. It was canceled just a few weeks later.Sybil Navas is the director of Vail’s Commission on Special Events. That group provides funding to new and existing events in order to drive people – and revenue – to town. Navas acknowledged that losing Mojo Man was a disappointment, but said the commission will keep looking for another event.The loss of a Memorial Day event means Vail’s summer officially kicks off with the Teva Mountain Games, June 1-3. The town is booked solid for the games, and other established events tend to bring big crowds.Still, Memorial Day remains a challenge. While most places kick off their summer seasons at the end of May, the Fourth of July has tended to be the real start of Vail’s summer season, for a simple reason.”It’s a big-risk weekend – the weather just isn’t reliable,” Navas said.That’s why Mojo Man, or something like it, would be a great fit for Memorial Day – snow and mud just mean more adventure for participants.And getting people to a resort on a holiday is worth more than just good weekend business. A big seasonal kick-off event can be a valuable thing, said Sarah Franke, the sales and marketing director for Group 970 Restaurants, which owns a half-dozen local restaurants, including the Vail and Beaver Creek Chophouse locations.”It reminds people of all the fun stuff there is up here,” she said.That’s just what’s going to happen this weekend in Beaver Creek.Beaver Creek Resort Company Special Events Coordinator Lauren Ciarallo said the resort will use this weekend’s festival to hand guests information about other events at the resort this summer.And while the folks at Beaver Creek are happy to have the weekend to themselves, more than one holiday event in the Vail-Beaver Creek area could be a good thing.”Having two events the same weekend can be good for the valley,” Franke said. “We’ve seen what can happen when there are events in Lionshead and Vail Village the same weekend.” And, Ciarallo acknowledged, another holiday weekend event in Vail could have drawn even more people to Beaver Creek. That’s what the people in Vail are trying to do, and next year if possible.But can there be too many events at a resort? Telluride has for years had a “Nothing Festival,” a weekend carved out of the summer calendar for, well, nothing.Vail Economic Development Manager Kelli McDonald said she can’t see that happening here any time soon.”There are multiple reasons we have events – to draw guest and overnight visitors and for economic vitality,” McDonald said. “We haven’t hit that tipping point yet.”Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.