Kaylee, left, and Kerry Morris make their way Wednesday through the crowd of skiers leaving Steamboat Ski Area. Traditionally, the week between Christmas and New Year's Day is the busiest week of the year, but not this winter. In 2012, the Saturday of the Steamboat MusicFest is on track to produce greater tourism numbers.

Photo by John F. Russell

Kaylee, left, and Kerry Morris make their way Wednesday through the crowd of skiers leaving Steamboat Ski Area. Traditionally, the week between Christmas and New Year's Day is the busiest week of the year, but not this winter. In 2012, the Saturday of the Steamboat MusicFest is on track to produce greater tourism numbers.

MusicFest to deliver 2nd wave of Steamboat tourism next week

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Missed the Boat hits the Steamboat Stage

Steamboat's own Missed the Boat performed live for a Gondola Square crowd Wednesday afternoon

Steamboat's own Missed the Boat performed live for a Gondola Square crowd Wednesday afternoon

Tent to go up in Knoll Parking Lot next week

Beginning Tuesday, the Steamboat Music Festival Tent, measuring 100 feet by 180 feet and providing more than 18,000 square feet of concert space, will be erected in the north portion of the ski area’s Knoll Parking Lot.

The festival tent will remain in the parking lot through Jan. 13. The closed portion of the Knoll Parking Lot is expected to be available for parking again on Jan. 14. In addition, the lower Knoll triangle lot also will be closed for event purposes. The Knoll Parking Lot is on Mount Werner Circle across from Eagleridge Drive.

The resort will continue to offer free parking in the south half of the Knoll Parking Lot and in the Meadows Parking Lot at Pine Grove and Mount Werner roads. Paid parking is available in the Gondola Square Parking Structure. In addition, Steamboat Springs Transit offers free bus rides between the ski area, downtown and most condominium locations in the mountain village area.

— The week between Christmas and New Year’s has earned a reputation as the busiest week of the ski season, but with the arrival of 2012, the Saturday of the Steamboat MusicFest is on track to produce greater tourism numbers. The same was true last year.

The lodging barometer produced by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association forecasts that 13,600 people will spend the night in Steamboat on Jan. 7 — 400 more people than were expected here Wednesday during the height of New Year’s week. With room to grow, that number is likely to swell beyond the 86 percent occupancy it would generate in Steamboat guest lodging properties.

The forecast for this Saturday, New Year’s Eve, remains strong with 12,100 people expected in town. That’s up from last year, when New Year’s Day fell on Saturday and 8,900 people were forecasted to spend the night and 9,400 actually did.

Steamboat Sheraton Resort General Manager John Curnow wrote in an email Wednesday that the holiday season has been good to his hotel at the base of Steamboat Ski Area.

“The hotel is a sell-out from last night (Tuesday) through Dec. 31,” Curnow said. “We’ve had two very solid weeks due to Christmas Day falling on Sunday. The biggest improvement for us year over year was the week before Christmas.”

Yampa Valley Regional Airport was expected to greet nearly 1,850 passengers on Wednesday with 995 arrivals and 852 departures.

The MusicFest, in its 27th year, is a package travel tour that draws thousands of fans of the Texas Americana music genre for six days of concerts with 40 bands, parties and skiing. This year’s MusicFest runs Jan. 5-10. A spokeswoman for Dickson Productions, promoter of the MusicFest, declined Wednesday to give a specific number of people expected to travel here for the event. She said the packages are sold for condominiums that sleep up to six people, for example, and until guests actually show up, Dickson won’t know how fully utilized each condo or hotel room is.

John Dickson told the Steamboat Today in January 2011 that his company sold 5,000 MusicFest packages for last year’s event.

The Steamboat Grand Vice President and General Manager Mike Lomas said his hotel is at 96 percent occupancy with a mix of owners and guests from the broader public and will remain at high occupancy through Sunday. He expects MusicFest arrivals to begin in earnest next Wednesday.

The lodging barometer reflects that Steamboat will be quieter next Wednesday, with 7,800 guests in town compared to 10,900 on Jan. 5, 2011.

In contrast to MusicFest week, this week has been all about family vacations, Lomas said. The hotel is emptied of guests during skiing hours, but his staff has organized gingerbread-man baking and Christmas-ornament making activities for young families. Lomas also enticed Steamboat resident Scott Flower into bringing a reindeer to the hotel for guests to admire.

“The mood is good at the hotel,” Lomas said. “Everyone wishes we had more snow, but they recognize we can’t do anything about it. Skiing is a family sport.”

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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