Freeride Festival promises economic boom
The Colorado Freeride Festival is returning to Winter Park, which means thousands of tourists and big bucks for local businesses in Grand County.
“All of the festivals, especially those on the east end of the county that bring in an additional ten or 20,000 folks, have an enormous impact on our economy,” said DiAnna Buter, coordinator of Grand County Economic Development. “Tourism is our number one industry, and without these types of events we wouldn’t be reaching this type of capacity on the weekends.”
Tourism in Colorado is rapidly growing. Last year Colorado hosted a record number or tourists and tourist revenue for the fifth straight year, taking in over $19 billion and generating $1.13 billion in state and local taxes.
Things in Grand County are no different.
“Tourism was at an all-time high last year, and that’s true in our county as well,” said Dede Fay, sales director for the Grand County Tourism Board. “Most of the destination areas continue to be up, and the trend just continues to go that way.”
Grand County does not collect economic impact data on any micro-scales, meaning the direct economic results of any given festival are hard to pin down. But while we’re left wanting on specifics regarding the impacts of the Colorado Freeride Festval, or any other major event, the eye-test says it all.
Lodging in the county has practically sold out in anticipation of the Freeride Festival.
“Our lodging has been full since the beginning of July,” said Steve Hurlbert, public information officer for Winter Park Resort. “We sell it out earlier every single year. People are catching wind that if they want to stay and make a weekend of it they have to act fast and early.”
Over 20,000 visitors are anticipated to visit Winter Park Resort for the Freeride Festival, and the influx should be felt throughout the county. Butler said visitors would typically spend part of their time at the festival, and make time to explore other areas in the county.
Butler also emphasized that looking at economic impact for one weekend may not tell the whole story, and that long-term an event like the Colorado Freeride Festival could have lasting effects on tourism in the county.
“Not only does it bring more visitors into town during the weekend, but it ultimately brings in new customers throughout the year,” said Butler. “New folks that maybe wouldn’t have picked Grand County or Winter Park as a destination get to come up because of the event. And they often times become return visitors.”
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