Changes to Crested Butte Arts Festival end in positive weekend

Looking to return to school next year

[ by Mark Reaman ]

The initial feeling from organizers of the Crested Butte Arts Festival is that this year’s location at the Crested Butte Community School was a great success and one that might be best for the future.

Given the reconfiguration of Elk Avenue, the festival moved the artist tents to the CBCS school parking lot and added food vendors, a kid’s art space and entertainment venue around the soccer field.

“Everyone we talked to, patrons and artists, commented positively around the location change,” explained Festival executive director Chelsea Dalporto-McDowell. “We were excited to hear that folks felt less congested and that the vibe was more relaxed. Also, the vendors loved it because every spot on the layout was a good spot and the beauty of Crested Butte still shined. Parents liked it better because we had more room for kids and families. The grass and entertainment area was relaxed for friends to commune and enjoy tunes, food, the scene and let the kids play too.”

The festival drew 106 artists altogether in 12 medium categories. There were also 10 booths that were manned by local non-profits and businesses along with six local food vendors. Dalporto-McDowell said most everyone reported having a great weekend mingling with buyers and selling art.

Based on previous festivals the goal was to have 6,000 visitors attend the three-day event. Dalporto-McDowell said that number was probably close to being achieved. She said the new $5 per day entry fee also didn’t seem to deter visitors.

“We found that folks were happy to support an organization that has been giving them art for 49 years,” she said. “We are immensely grateful for this support and can not thank everyone who came out enough for sticking with us. As we look towards the future, we know this change will be something that allows us to put more energy behind our mission and that is something we look forward to providing for our community.”

She also praised the easy working relationship with both the school and town to pull off the event. “Working with the school was great. We cannot thank them enough for what they allowed us to do and how easy they were to work with,” she said. “Our VIP house was inside the library and it was stunning and the overall footprint was user friendly for everyone. Also, the added parking was crucial and made us feel like we were not as big of a burden to the community this year, which felt really good! Also, the Town was instrumental in allowing us to use the gravel pit and Town Ranch area. We are very grateful for the ease of working with them too!”

As is normally the case with the Arts Festival weekend, rainy weather played a role in the event. “The weather was wild! Luckily, it came, mostly, at the end of the show each day so it did not affect our buyers too much,” Dalporto-McDowell noted. “If anything, it made buyers more decisive on their purchases. I must say though, it certainly was exciting to have hail two out of the three days mixed with fine art!”

As for next year, Dalporto-McDowell is leaning toward returning to the CBCS campus to hold the event if that is an option. “We prefer the new location,” she said. “It has many positives for us and our future, as well as for our artists and patrons. Elk is busy, busy and our local business owners are located there. With the new location it feels like there is more than enough to go around for all of us to be successful and have a great Arts Fest weekend.”

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