By Steve Kipp
Manitou Springs will feature a feast of special events next year, covering the gamut from fruitcake tosses, wine festivals and mumbo jumbo cooking contests, to coffin races, Luaus and holiday celebrations.
The lineup hasn’t been completely finalized, but here are some of the highlights.
Manitou will kick off the 2011 New Year with its Great Fruitcake Toss on Jan. 8. The Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce concedes it’s not a “huge” money-maker; but Executive Director Leslie Lewis says it’s “great exposure not only locally but nationally.”
The event will be held at Manitou Springs High School at 9 a.m.
One Manitou Springs event that is definitely a money-maker is the Manitou Springs Colorado Wine Festival, which draws such an abundance of wine sales that it helps fund other Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce events throughout the calendar year.
The 2011 Colorado Wine Festival in Manitou Springs is scheduled for June 4, which Lewis says will be limited to 25 wine vendors–all from Colorado (its 2010 event drew 29 vendors). Other arts and fine arts, crafts and food vendors will be featured. As for other similar festivals in the region, The Woodland Park Jazz, Food and Wine Festival is set for Aug. 13, 2011.
Lewis says the special events budget for the Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce is about $30,000 per year — although this includes some sponsor contributions in addition to proceeds from wine sales from its annual Wine Festival.
“Our attendance in 2009 was larger than 2010, but our wine sales were the same level,” Lewis said of the Manitou Springs wine festival, adding attendance was a few hundred fewer less in 2010. “But they all had fun.”
A new consolidation move with the chamber (see related story) could create more events in 2011 and in future years.
The Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau has officially added the “Office of Economic Development” to its title. The town’s economic development office had previously promoted events like the High Altitude Happy Hour.
Lewis expects the town will have additional events once a new marketing operations person is hired in 2011, in conjunction with the chamber’s merger with the office of economic development.
Other select events on the 2011 Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce calendar include:
Mumbo Jumbo Gumbo Cook-off (March 5 in conjunction with Mardi Gras
High Altitude Happy Hour (September)
September Luau (moved from a spring event for better weather accommodation)
Emma Crawford Festival – 17th annual Coffin Race & Parade (Oct. 29)
Official entries for the Gumbo Cook-off can be found at <a href=”http://www.manitousprings.org/pdf_events/Gumbo%20Apps.pdf”>Gumbo Cook-Off</a>
By comparison, The Woodland Park Chamber of Commerce calendar events for 2011 thus far include:
4th annual Lost Dutchman Music Festival in Divide (live bands) (July 23) …reserved camping available
26th annual Mountain Arts Festival in Woodland Park Aug. 6-7