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Council not willing to support the proposed comedy fest

Organizers ask for letter of support…won’t get it from CB 

By Mark Reaman

The idea of a Crested Butte comedy festival has fallen flat with the Crested Butte Town Council. Just three of the seven councilmembers even cared to hear a formal proposal on the festival from organizers, who had asked for a letter of support from the town board.

Town manager Dara MacDonald told councilmembers at the Tuesday, August 8 meeting that she had spoken to event organizers and conveyed that the council was split on the idea of allowing the Big Mine Ice Arena to be used as a festival performance venue seating 1,000 people. “They said they wanted to back away from the Big Mine request for now but requested a letter of support for the festival as a whole to help solicit sponsors and broadcast opportunities. Do you want to consider such a letter?” MacDonald asked the council.

“This would be an event using private venues so they wouldn’t need council approval,” noted mayor Glenn Michel. “I did like Mt. Crested Butte’s reasoning for limiting support to specific dates and not overlapping with Bike Week or the Fourth of July.”

“I think they are looking for pretty broad support for this type of festival and the exposure that comes with it and just having the town welcoming the event,” said MacDonald.

“We haven’t seen any presentation on the event at all,” said councilman Roland Mason, “so right now I would say no to a letter of support. I’d want to know what exactly the proposal is.”

“What we have is an impact issue,” said Michel. “During the summer months, it seems clear we have exceeded the capacity of the place at this point. If more people are introduced to Crested Butte through this, is that a good thing? Right now we don’t have the infrastructure to handle more people in the summer.”

“I think it is a strange process to consider writing such a letter without information,” said councilman Chris Ladoulis. “If we are going to entertain it, let’s have a real conversation.”

“I can extend the invitation to them to come and talk about the event,” said MacDonald.

Councilman Jackson Petito was not at the last council meeting when the issue came up and the council was split on the idea of even considering such a large event at Big Mine.

This week, he distinguished between the issues of the comedy festival itself and the idea of allowing it, or any event, to use Big Mine as a 1,000-person venue. “But I’ll never say no to discussion,” he said. “I’ll say no to a lot of things after discussion if that is what is warranted. But right now I can’t say yes to a letter of support.”

“We could write a letter stating we are guarded about the proposal,” proposed Michel. “We like comedy but are cautious about the impact.”

Councilman Jim Schmidt said he had heard a ton of negative comments about the idea. “I am ambivalent about the festival idea but I have heard so many negative comments from people that I can’t see signing a letter of support. The community response might have been different if the idea was suggested in May instead of the middle of summer when everyone was so busy.”

Michel asked if four council members were interested in having MacDonald extend an invitation to event organizers to come before council to provide details of the festival idea. Only council members Petito, Mason and Laura Mitchell responded affirmatively. So no invitation will be extended.

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