Steamboat Springs The strains of bluegrass and jazz that filtered through the air in Steamboat Springs Wednesday and Thursday was music to the ears of local businesses.
The sound wasn't so pleasant to law enforcement agencies.
About 11,000 people attended the two-day Independent Incident Music Festival.
Retailers and restaurants welcomed the influx of customers, while police tried to deal with a backlog of arrests.
The Routt County Sheriff's Office, Steamboat Springs Police Department and Grand, Routt and Moffat Narcotics Enforcement Team made 56 arrests between 7 p.m. Wednesday and 7 a.m. Friday.
Forty-five of those arrests were drug related.
"It was an extremely busy time for us," Sheriff John Warner said. "I am very disappointed with the number of drug arrests that were made.
"We are frustrated. We are tired."
GRAMNET plainclothes officers made 25 of the drug arrests in the campground and parking areas adjacent to the concert area. Local officers never entered the concert area, said Dwight Murphy, GRAMNET Task Force commander.
Several officers from other jurisdictions assisted GRAMNET in making the arrests, he said. Most of the arrests, he said, involved the sale of Ecstasy and some forms of methamphetamine. Cocaine, marijuana and some prescription drugs were also confiscated.
"The first day, we couldn't get 100 feet without someone trying to sell us everything under the sun," Murphy said.
"The drug situation was out of control. It was really prevalent."
Murphy said officers made more arrests on the first day of the concert. He attributed the lower volume on Thursday to a higher awareness of drug agents.
Tests are still ongoing to identify several substances.
Officers encountered high use of marijuana, he said, but they didn't make arrests.
"We just took it away," he said. "We didn't have time to enforce petty offense violations."
While supporters of the event do not condone the sale and use of drugs at the concert, they hope the community sees the benefits of bringing a concert of the size and proportion of the Independence Incident to Steamboat.
John Waldman, who owns Great Knight Productions Inc., a local company that helped to bring the festival to Steamboat, said large events do not come without some problems, and the two-day festival came with no major problems. "It was a well-run, safe event," he said.
The producers of the event, not the city of Steamboat Springs, paid to make the event happen, he said.
That includes staffing costs for additional buses, police officers and emergency medical technicians, he added.
The city profits from sales tax proceeds from concessions and camping fees at the concerts, as well as increased business in retail stores and restaurants, he said.
"There is a fair amount of money coming back into the community," Waldman said.
The future of the festival, he said, depends on the community's response. Great Knight Productions does not wish to bring in an event the public does not support, he said.
"We don't know what the future holds," he said. "We hope we can continue to bring it to Steamboat. If others feels so strongly that big music shouldn't be brought to Steamboat, then we will look at other communities to do our business."
Warner said he was concerned about the financial blow of so many arrests and prosecutions on the taxpayers of Routt County.
None of those arrested on drug charges was from Routt County, he said.
Joe Kboudi, owner of All That Jazz, hopes the community recognizes the importance of bringing diverse music to Steamboat.
All That Jazz served as one of two ticket outlets for the event. The number of festivalgoers might have been down slightly, he said, but the people who came brought not only their appreciation for music but their money.
"It helps business," Kboudi said. "Music is so important. It's important that we have a festival in Steamboat."