The Ride Festival would like to return to Telluride Town Park next year, and during a Tuesday morning business meeting, the city council discussed the proposal with city staff and festival director Todd Creel.
The Ride, which featured both up-and-coming and big-name rock ‘n’ roll bands during its years on the Town Park stage, scrapped its early July dates last year after being canceled in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic and moved the summer gathering to private locations in the city. Creel, in April this year, submitted a request to return in 2023 on September 29 and 30 and October 1. With a cap of 9,000 attendees, the return of The Ride to Town Park would herald the return of a third major festival, joining the Bluegrass and Blues & Brews festivals in this category.
Stéphanie Jaquet, director of the city’s parks and recreation department, presented a number of talking points for discussion. She noted that within two weeks of the requested new dates, a number of events are taking place, including Telluride Blues & Brews, Autumn Classic (formerly called Cars & Colors), Mountains to Desert, Suicide Prevention Walk and, in October , Original Thinkers. and Telluride Horror Festival.
Jaquet also pointed out that the use of the park at this time is abundant. The soccer season for youth programs and the adult co-ed recreational league is in full swing and would be affected for both games and practices over the five to seven days the festival would need in the park for performance, installation and failure.
Jaquet also expressed concern that the festival grounds could be negatively impacted.
“Depending on weather conditions, the proposed event and associated crowd may negatively impact playing fields for the remainder of fall programming,” she wrote in her memo. “Potential damage to the field so late in the season, when the grass goes dormant, will be more difficult to recover and repair before the winter season, which could affect field use and scheduling in the spring.”
Council member Adrienne Christy raised concerns about impacts to Town Park in mid-autumn.
“We’ve heard from our community that I think people ask us to say ‘no’ when it’s appropriate. And I think just seeing parks and recreation having discussions about the park and it being packed and how to weigh and deal with all the requests that come in, at some point we have to say ‘no,'” Christy said. “That being said, I feel like a ‘no’ but…if there was a little less of an impact, especially on the use of the park , I could agree, but I recognize that it has a significant impact on the bottom line for a business that needs to exist. Just the idea of having our football league play their league game in a different place… I know it’s very simple and very small, but it’s our community. It’s the people who live here, it’s their park and to get them to go somewhere else, I know it’s just a game and it’s only a few people, but just the principle of it, like that mean what? What are we telling our community? I think it’s important to consider those kinds of things.
Council member Dan Enright was also reluctant to support the date change, just as many townspeople thrive on live music events.
“The comments I’m hearing from locals are that having another major event at the end of the season feels less like a benefit than a burden to the people I’ve spoken to.” said Enright. “Yes, we want to level part of our season, but to have another big thing right at what is traditionally the end of our season… people are looking forward to the downturn in early to mid-October and… looking forward to more a bit of a relief at this time of year.
The requested new dates also place the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival just two weeks earlier. This holiday has, for more than a decade, served as an end-of-summer party. Steve Gumble, director of the Blues & Brews Festival and August Jazz Festival, said holding a major festival in late September-early October had an impact on resources critical to the success of the event.
“I want to make it very clear that I’m not against another music festival in town…we love the music in this community, but I have to let you know that I’m adamantly opposed to the timing of this festival,” he said. said Gumble. . “I think it really comes down to one word and it’s resources or lack of in this case.”
Gumble and others said attracting volunteers had been a problem for event managers throughout the year and that assessments made by law enforcement and emergency medical personnel needed to be taken into consideration.
In Jaquet’s memo, Telluride chief marshal Josh Comte said hiring the reserves his department needed would be problematic.
“Finding reserve officers will be a challenge,” Comte wrote. “Historically this has been one of the busiest events for TMO staff and requires more reservations. For the last three festivals we have only been able to secure seven bookings whereas in the past we have had more of 15. Also Blues and Brews is scheduled two weeks before which will also require reservations, I think it is unlikely that we will be able to secure the same reservations, if any, for this festival given its proximity to Blues and Brews. Given current staffing shortages, it is unclear if nearby agencies will be able to help.”
The Ride, according to the date request, would have shorter hours on Saturday and Sunday, with a single show headlining Friday night. Creel was flexible about different dates, possibly in August, a point some board members said they appreciated.
Ultimately, it will be the city’s parks and recreation commission that decides whether or not to approve the request, although the council can – and has – overruled decisions made by its lower councils. The Board, needing more information and input from potentially affected park users, was unable to provide specific guidance. Creel could revise his candidacy, which would precipitate a different analysis from the staff. It was agreed that the matter would be taken up at the parks board meeting on October 19.