~ by Bob Volpe and Rick Langenberg ~
Late last month, the annual Temporary Use Permit (TUP) forum was held in the Woodland Park Council Chambers. And if any skeptics don’t believe in the importance of special events for the city’s future, they received a strong lesson in the changing dynamics for the town.
The room was full of sponsors and organizers from many of the special events that take place each year in town. They came to hear city planning and building department director Sally Riley advise them on changes to the TUP process and learn how well events are doing in the city.
Issues addressed were fees for “for profit” organizations, liquor licenses, time sensitive dates for applications, health department regulations, food vendor cooking regulations, access for fire and EMS vehicles, where and how to get cones and barracks if needed, and tips on promoting the events.
Riley asked each representative from their particular event to estimate the attendance their event got last season. The top attraction last year was the farmers market.
They boasted they saw 97,000 people come to their event. All combined, the 25 special events held last year attracted 146,587 people to Woodland Park. This number was up from 141,500 in 2016, and further up from 100,200 in 2015.
The city is hoping 2018 will surpass the 150,000 mark.
In the last few years, special events have become an important part of efforts to promote the area, and allow Woodland Park to become more than just a pass-through spot. Comparisons have been drawn with Manitou Springs and Cripple Creek, which have much bigger budgets than Woodland Park for promoting events
the issue of special events has even generated a few political skirmishes.
The Main Street and Downtown Development Authority groups have pursued aggressive plans to have more events that capture the flavor of Woodland Park. Some of these efforts have generated question marks, but no one disagrees with the desire to attract more visitors to Woodland Park.
Special events and regional marketing have commanded much interest in the last few years, statistics reaffirmed by the local chamber of commerce. Statistics have indicated that many more people are frequenting the chamber’s visitor center and making inquiries about Woodland Park. But the best way to sponsor more events in a cost-effective manner is still under debate.
Best Of Results Pending
More details on this subject will be made available with the release of the annual “Best Of The High Country” readers survey, sponsored by TMJ News. This survey highlights many categories, including Best Area Event/Festival and top businesses and eateries/casinos/and overall hangouts. Results of the thousands of ballots cast will be announced in the March 6 issue of TMJ.