Sunday, September 15, 2019

Festival organizers concerned with Bud Light ripple effect

Chili and Beer on same day as Vinotok makes it more challenging

Now the community moves toward Vinotok, the sometimes wild Crested Butte fall festival slated for the week of September 14-20, culminating with a bonfire that Saturday before the autumnal equinox. But like everything in town the past few weeks, Bud Light is casting its shadow on the event.



At the September 2 Crested Butte Town Council meeting, Vinotok organizer Molly Murfee came to get approval of the special event permit. She told the council the Whatever, USA party could have a big impact on Vinotok.
“One of the fallouts of the Bud Light event is that it forced the Chili and Beer Festival to the same day as the Vinotok bonfire,” Murfee said. “Vinotok is not really psyched on that. As we all know, Vinotok doesn’t serve alcohol but people do drink on Vinotok day. The Vinotok crew is there to maintain a peaceful, controlled crowd during the mumming at restaurants. We also use them to ensure safety at the bonfire. We were hoping because the Chili and Beer festival is happening on the same day, that the Bud Light organizers would help with extra ‘Safe Rides’ and extra crowd security. There is a concern that the extra inebriation level could make some people disruptive.”
Murfee said she had reached out to the Bud Light event organizers and the chamber of commerce (sponsor of the Beer and Chili Fest) but had not received a response to her request.
“We are concerned with potential problems that we didn’t ask for,” Murfee told the Town Council. “We are just putting it out there. I’m trying to do the responsible thing and am not getting anywhere.”
Murfee said she compiled an estimate for the additional Safe Rides and security and submitted a proposal to town–Bud Light liaison Dan Marshall weeks ago.
“The two events together warrant some attention since both have drinking elements to them,” Murfee said. “The two events being together could pose new issues.”
Councilperson Glen Michel asked what the estimates had come in at and Murfee said about $2,100 for the Safe Rides and another $2,100 for extra security. She said advertising would add a couple thousand more dollars. She had wanted to include some compensation for the volunteer emergency personnel, clean-up crews and administrative costs.
Marshall said the proposal submitted was for close to $20,000.
“I forwarded the proposal to the regional marketing department of Anheuser-Busch and it is in their hands,” Marshall said. “Mosaic [the Whatever USA event organizers] has been asked for a lot of compensation so I felt this was the best avenue.”
Murfee said as of Tuesday, September 9, she had not received a response on her proposal.
Chili and Beer Fest organizer Shaun Matusewicz, who is also a town councilperson, said that event was taking place from noon until 4 p.m. at the Crested Butte Mountain Resort base area.
“Getting that extra security and the Safe Rides set a precedent that we might want to see in the future,” said mayor Aaron Huckstep. “We might want to see the same precautions next year. Once things are implemented for one thing, we start looking at things differently up here.”
“The Bud Light event has a ripple effect to September 20,” said Murfee. “This is not a situation we want with Chili and Beer on the same day as the Vinotok bonfire. I understand this may not be under the council domain but I am trying to make the council aware.”
Chief marshal Tom Martin said there was some concern within the department about the two events being on the same day. “Molly describes a pretty good picture,” he said. “We expect it to be a busy night. So I did ask for two officers to get overtime for Vinotok with my Bud Light event budget and they approved it immediately. It will be a busier than normal Vinotok.”
Martin said that while extra security “would be great, we think we can manage without it.”
“Because Chili and Beer has been displaced and given the unique circumstance this year, I would be willing to throw some town funds to address some of the concerns,” said Councilperson Roland Mason.
“I would support that,” said Councilmember Chris Ladoulis. “We’ve identified the issue and it will be a crazier night. We should address it.”
“We do a lot providing security and clean-up,” added Murfee. “We don’t want Vinotok to be blamed for some of the issues that might come from people drinking since noon. We try hard to do the right thing.”
“The ripple effect is certainly impacting Chili and Beer,” said Matusewicz. “We have probably 35 percent fewer brewers and we expect no growth in attendance. It is not ideal how the festival and Vinotok are stacked together.”
Murfee said going to Bud Light seemed logical since their promotion moved the Chili and Beer festival. “I shot big with the proposal,” she admitted.
“It’s a tough policy decision for the council to think about the town paying for impacts,” said Huckstep. “It’s not a reflection on Vinotok but that would be a big change for the town.”
Town manager Todd Crossett told the council that while the staff has concerns with the event and they expect it to be more challenging than in past years, “We feel it can be done safely. I’m comfortable with the marshal’s recommendation.”
The council will address more mitigation measures for Vinotok at the September 15 council meeting.

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