SnowBall gets surveyed
Ryan Summerlin March 21, 2013
In the aftermath of the SnowBall Music Festival, public officials and a number of businesses in the Fraser Valley consider the event a success, while other businesses, community members, and medical service professionals view the event in a more negative light. “The Fraser business community has been desiring a Fraser festival or music event for years and years to drive business, ‘bring a festival down here, they’re all up in Winter Park,'” said Jeff Durbin, Fraser town manager during the Fraser board of trustees meeting on Wednesday night. “This might be one of those ‘be careful what you ask for’ moments.”An unscientific online poll conducted by the Sky-Hi News, which by Thursday, March 21, had 180 votes, found that more than 50 percent of respondents thought “the festival attracted an undesirable crowd that we don’t want associated with our Valley.” More than 20 percent of respondents thought the festival “attracted a large crowd, but they didn’t spend much money while they were here and the festival kept other potential visitors from coming here.” As many as 12 percent of respondents believed “it’s a nice new attraction, but it should be moved to sometime in April when normal business would be slower.” Business owners contacted throughout town who didn’t see the crowds have voiced similar concerns about the festival, many saying they would like to see the festival during another time of the year.Business reactionsWhile some merchants reported benefiting from the SnowBall festival, others reported sales numbers were down from last year. The weekend the festival took place is considered the first weekend of spring break, which is normally a busy time of the year in the valley, according to Gale Delphia, operations manager for B Jammin’, a retail store with two locations in the town of Winter Park and one location at Winter Park Resort.Delphia reported business for both stores in town as being significantly down from the previous year, while business at the resort store was up.”It was a dead zone in Cooper Creek Square,” Delphia said. “None of these kids were our customers.”The numbers relating to sales tax revenue for the Fraser Valley and Grand County will not be finalized until June, so whether the Valley actually benefited or was hurt by the music festival still remains to be seen.Some of the concerns voiced by merchants who didn’t see a large SnowBall crowd was the timing of the festival. “Scheduling an event that might jeopardize that traffic [from the first weekend of spring break] seems kind of reckless to me,” Delphia said.Durbin reported the Town of Fraser and Winter Park & Fraser Chamber planned this event around what lodging companies said usually is a slow weekend for them.”We picked this weekend because the lodging folks told us this would be a good weekend when the lodging was low,” Durbin said. “We are starting to hear some things in the community that maybe that is not the case, but that is why the weekend was originally selected.””We would have had a great weekend, but a great amount of the business community suffered on one of the biggest weekends of the year so others could have record numbers,” said Ron Jones, managing partner of Cooper Creek Square. “We are in this together, when we have something that is poison to one group and good for another group, you lose that balance.” Other businesses in the Valley and beyond reported they had a good amount of business related to the festival.Ian Gough, an owner of Smokin’ Moe’s reported the restaurant had a “slow start on Friday, but it picked up as the weekend went on and overall turned to be pretty good.” Gough also commented he hoped the festival would come back.”It went quite well I would say,” said Kristy Meyer, owner of Destinations West at Beaver Village. Beaver Village covered its bases before the festival by hiring extra security, charging cash deposits, and setting ground rules with guests; the company reported not having very many problems at all. “The lodging folks tell us that everything was sold all the way beyond Granby,” Durbin said. “The lodging folks reported they didn’t experience any unusual problems – noise issues, property damage, those kinds of things – so that was really great news.””We found them very pleasant to deal with and very easy to manage, as easy of a group we have dealt with large events in Winter Park in the past,” said Jeff Williams, owner of the Winter Park Pub. “It’s nice to have this one over so we can plan better and know what we’re up against if we do this again next season.”Public servicesPublic safety agencies reported the event as largely successful, which they attributed to hundreds of hours of pre-planning for the event and a large amount of interagency cooperation.”We took an organization of 30 employees and, overnight, we became 130,” Durbin said. “Everyone that has been involved feels that given the performance that we had during this event, we are prepared to handle any type of incident.”A total of 10 different law enforcement agencies from around Colorado were involved in the enforcement activities for the Snowball festival and the Fraser Valley.”Operationally, it became our goal to provide these visitors with a positive experience so that they and their friends would become return visitors, Durbin said. “I can’t tell you how much positive feedback I had from festival goers about how they felt welcomed by the community and about how they felt comfortable here.”In all, 21 individuals were booked into the Grand County Jail and 40 individuals were placed in the detox center at the Grand Park Community Recreation Center over the weekend. A total of 127 serious charges were handed out by law enforcement over the course of the weekend.”You as the town board can be very proud of the way Glen [Trainor, chief of police for the Fraser/Winter Park Police] put it together,” said Jim Campbell, meeting attendee and Grand County undersheriff whose department contributed more than 50 employees to help with the event. “I have been in law enforcement a long time and have been involved in some events and under Glen’s leadership and how he brought the different law enforcement agencies together along with the other services and really focused it and got it going, I compliment him and you for having him there to do it.””I think you can be very proud of the law enforcement we have in this county regardless of what color of uniform they wear, because not only did we work together, which doesn’t always happen, but if I’ve heard it once I have heard it 50 times about how friendly the cops are in this community, that’s stuff that larger departments in the United States can’t buy,” Trainor said.Trainor, Campbell, and a number of other town officials and employees received the “Snowflake Award” from Durbin in recognition of their dedication to the community and public safety.Another entity that received a Snowflake Award was First Transit, which transported over 20,000 festival goers to and from the festival. “Over 20,000 people rode the bus, so over two thirds of the people arrived by bus,” Durbin said. “I think First Transit did as much to keep people safe as anybody else.”Will snowball return?”Is Snowball coming back? I don’t know, Do we want it to come back? I don’t know,” Durbin said. “Those are conversations we have to have as a community.”The Winter Park & Fraser Chamber has sent out a survey to its member businesses, the results of which will not be released until the chamber has finished collecting responses and has sorted through and organized the information. The chamber has already received over 500 responses to the survey, according to Durbin.