Thursday, July 18, 2019
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Finding promotional balance between beer, weed, open space and sports?

Could in the end, the MSEOTH (Major Special Event on the Horizon) be—too mild? Painting the streets blue and playing Twister with celebrity-types seems just so mellow when locals are used to events featuring giant bonfires, chainless bike races and speeding snowmobiles hauling skiers and boarders down Elk Avenue to huck a jump at Third and Elk. But the MSEOTH still sounds pretty fun. Free concerts, interesting games, funny events, free beer—Who wouldn’t be down with whatever?
Looking over the enormous planning document this week and getting an idea of some of the details, don’t expect to see a blue elephant lumbering around Third and Elk. (Bummer.) But I’ll bet it will all be pretty entertaining. I’m just looking forward to the spectacle of something different and unusual.
This one-time event might bring a smile to people in September. It will bring some cash to some local businesses and the town in general. I don’t think it will be a giant commercial for Crested Butte. Quick—tell me the city or name of the high rise where the dude is playing ping pong with the Terminator? LA? Vegas? NY?
You want exposure? The New York Times put a really slick video on its website last month documenting the differing attitudes between Crested Butte and Gunnison over retail marijuana sales now that pot is legal in Colorado. That got a few lookers noticing us for the first time. That weed piece expanded to a Yahoo news article and was splattered all over Facebook as well. The Boston Globe? We were there in a story about the state’s marijuana industry last month as well.
The USA Pro Challenge road bike race zoomed through Elk Avenue to a wet Mt. Crested Butte finish this week and was broadcast around the world. It started the next day in Gunnison and ended in Monarch. The international TV coverage got the word out about “Great Crested Butte” and the rest of this scenic neighborhood to the world.
The Denver Post’s Jason Blevins wrote a sweet story on the Crested Butte Land Trust and its efforts to secure open space and trail access on Snodgrass Mountain a couple weekends ago. It was a great, high-profile Sunday publicity piece for Crested Butte.
We consistently get mentioned as one of the best ski towns in North America and currently hold the title belt for the Powder Magazine Ski Town Throwdown.
Conscious trail and open space preservation, retail pot stores, biking and skiing are all part of our identity. Interesting things all.
So why not ride a 48-hour blue-themed party that could provide a good chunk of humor, a tad of exposure to a younger demographic, some financial benefit to the town and hopefully some interesting sights that not everyone gets to see up close and personal?

Walking around a closed-off Elk Avenue Monday night as a band played and kids romped about as adults drank alcohol from open containers, I was reminded by someone that the difference was that this was an “us” event and Bud Light is a “them” event. It is not an unfair observation. Other “thems” that have come here simply for the place and scenic backdrop are scores of weddings every summer, the old winter Carter Center fundraisers and most conference gatherings. It’s sort of what the place is—a resort community that depends on visitors coming here to fuel the economy. Of course it is always better when those visitors understand and respect the soul of the place.
I am sensitive to the concerns of a mountain town “selling its soul” to giant corporations—but how is Whatever, USA that different from the USA Pro Challenge that had similar disruptions and private parties…and instead of making the town money, it cost the two municipalities tens of thousands of dollars each and more than $100K to the community? By the way, I enjoyed that event, too.
Painting the street blue for a few days doesn’t seem the “Crossing of the Rubicon” moment of a mountain town selling its soul. It sounds more like a resort community looking for a last hurrah after a really busy summer.

Locals have a chance to throw in their two cents to the Crested Butte Town Council on Monday. That might be as much of an event as the event itself. In fact, I hear Oskar Blues is sponsoring the public hearing (kidding!). And if the council gives the nod, when it is all over, we can debate if the blue streets ruined or enhanced the experience for those living in Crested Butte.

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