Vail event funding includes new bourbon, bacon fest
Powabunga festival moving from March to April after Spring Back to Vail
- $1.7 million: Total of 2020 funding requests from the Vail Commission on Special Events.
- $991,590: Allocated money.
- $45,000: Funding allocated for a new Bourbon and Bacon Fest Vail event.
- $79,790: Largest 2020 contribution, to Powabunga.
- Source: Vail Commission on Special Events.
VAIL — Events are a significant part of Vail’s economic picture and social scene. It’s the Vail Commission on Special Events’ job to keep those events healthy.
Commission members recently presented the Vail Town Council with an overview of what’s being funded in 2020. Most events on the commission’s long list of events are familiar, from Oktoberfest and the Vail Farmers’ Market and Art Show to the Summer Bluegrass Series and Taste of Vail. Most are funded with between a few thousand dollars and as much as nearly $80,000 for the Powabunga festival.
The funding for Powabunga nearly doubled for 2020, which drew a question from Mayor Dave Chapin.
Commission member Alison Wadey replied that Powabunga has moved from March to April. This year’s event, a three-day festival, will be the weekend following the 2020 edition of Spring Back to Vail.
Vail Economic Development director Mia Vlaar said moving Powabunga will give the town a second ticketed event at the end of the ski season.
Bacon, bourbon and gymnastics
While a date hasn’t been determined, a bourbon and bacon festival is coming to Vail and received $45,000 in commission support. Festival promoters are working with town officials to schedule the event during a time when Vail could use more weekend visitors.
The Vail Classic Invitational, a gymnastics meet, was a new event in 2019. Funding for 2020 is designed to help the event double its first-year attendance.
Council Member Jenn Bruno praised the idea of a gymnastics event, saying the event will attract both locals and participants from out of town.
The Vail Pickleball Open, which received $5,000 from the commission, will also draw people from out of town.
The Mountain Art Collective is launching a new music series in the old Colorado Mountain College auditorium space in Cascade Village. Those events will bring people in during the week, Wadey said.
Constantly evaluating the slate
Applying for town money for events doesn’t just mean the town cuts a check.
The commission does research into new trends and also uses public comments for recommendations to event organizers.
Bruno asked Wadey about the Vail Craft Beer Classic and Rocky Mountain Burger Battle. That event received $70,000 in 2019 and will receive $65,000 in 2020.
Bruno said she doesn’t believe those events were a big enough attraction to justify that amount of support.
Wadey noted that the commission made 2020 funding contingent on changes the commission requested, particularly ways to make the event more family-friendly.
The commission will occasionally pull funding from an event that isn’t performing well. Events sometimes require more funding than the commission can provide.
The Vail Town Council provides funding for “iconic” events, including the GoPro Mountain Games and the Bravo! Vail Music Festival.
The Global Solutions Forum might be approaching that big-event status. The council funded the forum’s $50,000 funding request for this year.
All that support pays dividends.
Commission data looked at numbers that 14 events, ranging from Spring Back to Vail to Pink Vail, which the town and commission funded for $432,000. Those events generated about $21 million in direct economic impact — spending on everything from rooms to meals to T-shirts. That spending generated more than $760,000 in tax revenue.
Vail Town Council Member Greg Moffet, in his final meeting on the council before his term ended, called the commission’s work “ridiculously impressive.”
Wadey, who’s also the director of the Vail Chamber & Business Association, noted that Vail’s events commission was the valley’s first.
“Every town in Eagle County has an events board now,” she said.
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