Despite a bevy of fights between the main promoter for Cripple Creek’s veterans and biker festival and city officials in Colorado Springs, Creek leaders say it’s full-speed ahead for the annual Salute to American Veterans Rally later this summer.
The event typically attracts one of the largest crowds for a festival in Teller County and will celebrate its 23rd annual rally that includes the largest motorcycle procession in the state.
However, some questions have been raised recently due to controversies that have engulfed Jim Wear, the president of Pro Promotions, the main organizer of the Salute and several big festivals in Colorado Springs. Wear has been the subject of news stores in the last week regarding a legal decision that bars him from removing reported trouble-makers at events in Colorado Springs, and regulations that require more paper work to obtain certain tourism monies.
In both cases, Wear found himself at odds with Colorado Springs officials and strongly criticized their decisions.
Cripple Creek officials don’t see these controversies impacting the veterans rally, but concede they may have to monitor these issues a little closer.
Recently, the city of Colorado Springs and Wear engaged in a publicized feud over issues dealing with event-related security and funding.
“The city attorney’s office (in Colorado Springs) is more concerned about constitutional rights violation lawsuits than the public safety of its citizens,” blasted Wear, according to an article in The (Colorado Springs) Gazette.
Wear was referring to a recent decision by the city that he believes could endanger festival-goers. The Colorado Springs attorney’s office ruled that festival organizes can’t eject so-called trouble-makers unless they are breaking the law. Police officials in Colorado Springs say they must balance the constitutional rights of individuals versus public safety concerns.
But Wear contends that this stance could amount to a recipe for a disaster He wants the city to take a more pro-active attitude, which could grant him the authority to give certain people the boot that are causing problems and creating a nuisance. “By the time the law is broken, or a fight breaks out, or someone assaults someone, it’s too late,” said Wear, according to a report in The Gazette.
It’s unclear how this could impact Cripple Creek’s veterans and biker rally. According to Cripple Creek Marketing and Special Events Director Steve Kitzman, everything is proceeding well from the city’s standpoint in preparing for the festival, scheduled for Aug. 14-16.
Cripple Creek Police Chief Mike Rulo agrees with the position of Colorado Springs. He stated that the only way a person would be evicted from the veterans and biker event, or any organized festival in Cripple Creek, is if he/she breaks a city ordinance. “They would have to be breaking the law,” said Rulo.
That said, Rulo indicated that the police department tries to work with festival organizers and vendors in assuring that their events run smoothly and without incidents.
The Salute rally has generated much praise, but has also been the subject of considerable controversy regarding the funding for the promoter and impacts for local businesses. In reader surveys by The Mountain Jackpot (TMJ), the event has often been dubbed as both the best and worst festival in Cripple Creek.
City officials say the event has generated few problems and hardly any fights, despite the massive crowds. “It is such a positive event,” said Rulo. “We have had minimal problems.”
The issue of so-called troublemakers at the rally, though, has surfaced at times.
According to sources, some people in the past were informed by festival organizers not to come to the rally and even received letters informing them they weren’t welcome at the event. But these situations never resulted in any conflicts. And one time, concerns erupted over the reported arrival of a major biker gang at the rally and the city allocated close to $100,000 for extra security and the event costs.
Shortly after this possible threat, the city and Wear parted ways for several years and the rally occurred in Winter Park. But due to popular demand, it returned in 2010, but with a more formalized contract and the axing of certain biker celebrations, such as a wet t-shirt contest.
Besides the issue of security, the rally organizer also got in a recent fight with Colorado Springs officials over new regulations that required him to submit more paper work in order to receive certain tourism funds. These are necessary for event-organizers to help foot the bill for city services, such as police protection.
Wear claims that such action may kill the Toys for Tots event, which also comes to Cripple Creek.