Sweet sounds on the river
MINTURN – There, next to La Playuela Park, is a group of Minturnites’ dream. In the dream, blankets lay spread out on two sloped, grassy tiers where people watch a concert against the backdrop of the roaring Eagle River. For now, the amphitheater is just an orange box spray-painted in the dirt. The tiers of seating are roughly in place and retained by large boulders. Up the hill above the amphitheater, next to the railroad, dirt, rocks and other debris litter what will be a parking lot that looks like it might hold 100 or more cars.Construction is already underway, and it will culminate Aug. 5 with a ceremony for people who supported the amphitheater and renewal of La Playuela Park. The amphitheater’s main event – the Live in Minturn Concert Series – begins later the same month.The amphitheater isn’t just for concerts. Other events organizers hope to hold there are poetry slams, lectures, kids’ events, weddings and parties, said Minturn Councilwoman Kelly Brinkerhoff.Brinkerhoff is one of several Minturn residents who were dedicated to renewing the La Playuela Park playground and building the amphitheater. “It’s a different level of entertainment and cultural experience I don’ think the town has had before,” Brinkerhoff said.
The park and amphitheater idea surfaced years ago with the Minturn Community Fund, a nonprofit designed to raise money for projects beneficial to the town.”I think it’s a very exciting amenity serving various purposes,” said Andy Kaufman, founder and president of the community fund. “The playground is also a gathering place for the community.”When fundraising stalled, a group of citizens rallied and took over the project, gathering more than $400,000 in private and public donations. A big chunk of the money came from Greater Outdoor Colorado, also known as GOCO, a state organization that funds land conservation and open space.Flying nunThe amphitheater, just off Cemetery Road, will look something like a “flying nun,” said project supporter Ernie Glesner. Plans include an overhang about 16 feet high in front and 12 feet in back built upon a stage that is 3 feet high.
A state-of-the-art sound and lighting system is also in the works, organizers said.A surface, maybe asphalt, will lie in front of the stage, followed by the two tiers of grass seating, Glesner said. The 4,100 square feet of seating should cater to about 500 people, Brinkerhoff said.”We’d like to keep it on the small side because it is Minturn,” she said.Off to the side of the amphitheater is a deck overhanging the Eagle River. During concerts, a tent might be erected over the deck to house band members and others, Glesner said.Above the amphitheater to the south will be bathrooms, and even further to the south is the planned parking lot. Organizers will ask the Minturn Town Council to approve parking on May 17.
Business boost?Some organizers and supporters felt the amphitheater might breathe life into Main Street’s fading retail district. A shuttle service from the market to the amphitheater could take people to concerts on Saturday nights, then later go back to town for dinner at Minturn restaurants, Brinkerhoff said.”If you have events and are bringing several hundred people to town, it can’t hurt,” said Kaufman, who owns the Saloon. “It’s a good follow up on the (Minturn) Market. It’ll give people a reason to stay in Minturn a little longer.”Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14622, or email@example.com.Vail, Colorado