EDGE OF STEAMBOAT

Fun for everyone

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— As you scan down this column, try to picture me sitting on a sunlit hill in Telluride listening to Sam Bush and having a Scrapple (the movie) moment.

Yes, I cut out of work early this week and went down to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival.

Fortunately, I won't feel too far from home while I'm there. Word has it that a gaggle of Yampa Valley's sons and daughters is making the trip as well, and rumor has it a whole Steamboat camp will be set up.

That's an interesting perk you get when you live in Routt County, I guess. People here tend to be fairly prolific about traveling to the right place at the right time. When they get there, they congregate and represent.

While in Telluride, we will see a town that has taken a different strategy for coaxing in summer tourists than Steamboat Springs has. Telluride draws its summer tourists by offering world-class arts events. After the bluegrass festival, Telluride has numerous other events, including Blues and Brew music festival, the internationally renowned Mountain Film Festival, the Chamber Music Festival and the Telluride Jazz Celebration. Check out the town's online calendar and you'll find many more events connected to the arts, too.

Granted, Telluride's economic demographics are different than Steamboat Springs', as far as the size of the town and how that affects the number of summer tourists needed. But Telluride has embraced its artistic side as a viable arena to draw visitors. That's something I don't think our community has completely explored. Steamboat's new Fourth of July music festival, for example, has drawn a response from some businesses as more of a nuisance-creating event than something drawing essential tourist dollars, which prompted the move of the festival off the mountain. That could be more of a timing issue.

What we do focus on for summer tourism is something only a small percentage of people enjoy above and beyond the financial value baseball and softball tournaments. Unlike skiing, which locals and tourists enjoy together, the summer tourism we cater to is mainly fun for the tourists only. That's what Telluride residents have on us. They took something the community enjoys music, film and other artistic interests to draw tourists and then benefit from how those dollars improve the events.

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