OUR VIEW

The show should go on

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The traffic was bad, and there were an inordinate number of hitchhikers about, but overall, this music festival thing is worth exploring again based on the success of the first Independence Incident.

Reports are that 18,000 tickets were sold for the two-day festival, featuring the band, The String Cheese Incident. The fans sang and danced. They ate and drank. They camped by the tennis bubble and wandered about the city, some looking as if they were in desperate need of a shower.

But for the most part, they left Steamboat Springs as they found it. Event organizers said the fans cleaned up after themselves.

Before the concert, law enforcement officials said they did not know what to expect, so they prepared for the worst.

It never happened. Yes, there was a handful of drug arrests. But the Independence Incident fell far short of the debauchery some feared.

"It was no big deal," Assistant Police Chief Art Fiebing said. "For the number of people here, it was a quiet couple of days."

There were complaints that event organizers didn't provide enough water and were too restrictive on what fans could bring to the concert. And there were complaints about the $4 vendors charged for bottled water.

But all in all, the pluses outweighed the minuses. Businesses in the city particularly those in the vicinity of the concert venue and camping reported strong sales and few problems.

The music festival had an added benefit the demographics of the fans closely match the demographics of the market the ski industry is trying to reach. Surely some of those fans who were introduced to Steamboat during the Independence Incident will think of the community again the next time they choose to go skiing.

Event promoter John Waldman says he wants to host similar events in Steamboat, maybe three or four music festivals each year. Given the way the first event went, that's not a bad idea.

Steamboat has lost a number of high profile events in recent years, most notably the vintage auto races that were held over Labor Day weekend for 10 years. Next year, Triple Crown's contract is up and there is no guarantee that tournament will return in the future.

With that in mind, trying to build on the success of the first Independent Incident seems like a smart move for the community and our tourist-based economy.

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