Those who attended the 28th Telluride Blues & Brews Festival (TBB) last weekend know that Samantha Fish rocks, Buddy Guy was on fire (turning 86!), the sun shone brightly and the many beers on offer served well. to lubricate his dance steps. But how did it really happen? Telluride officials, festival representatives and other agencies agreed in a debriefing meeting on Tuesday morning that, behind the scenes, it was a success on every level.
The city’s Director of Parks and Recreation, Stephanie Jaquet, led the meeting at Rebekah Hall. She was the first to notice how the three-day celebration of craft beer and blues-based music went off without a hitch.
“I just want to start by saying things went incredibly well from my perspective,” Jaquet said. “I want to thank the festival staff for being very responsive to the comments and feedback we’ve had in previous years. I felt like a lot of things had come together.
Courtney McClary, chief operating officer of SBG Productions, the local company that runs the festival, said ticket sales were healthy for the weekend. Friday’s sales were based on 7,600 tickets, Saturday’s reached almost 8,300 and Sunday’s reached 7,000. Pre-sales, McClary explained, made it a sold-out festival, but non- presentations – common in the concert and festival industry – resulted in lower numbers actually being scanned at the admissions gate. The specter of COVID lingers, but compared to other events, TBB no-shows were a lower percentage.
“I think we’re pretty lucky to see a bit lower rate than last year,” she said.
The 2021 festival – held without the big Saturday tasting and with proof of vaccination required, negative COVID tests and other public health protocols in place – was for many attendees a tentative first step towards public gatherings since the cancellation of the 2020 event. The public, it seems, is more than ready to put the pandemic in the rearview mirror, as sales indicate.
The campground, said Kathleen Morgan, TBB campground supervisor, was “incredible this year”.
“We were definitely full and had a super nice group of people,” she said.
Loading the campground on Monday was aided by the fact that about 25% of campers returned home on Sunday. Last year’s loading time was exceeded by more than 30 minutes, with Town Park Campground being open to the general public again shortly after noon.
On the security and law enforcement side, Telluride Chief Marshal Josh Comte and festival security director John Cohn reported a single intrusion, but nothing else of note. The meek and well-behaved crowd also left emergency medical services with little more to do than hand out earplugs, drops of sunscreen and a handful of bandages. EMS treated three people in the park for ailments other than festival-related accidents. But best of all, said EMS rep Brad Blackwell, “no intoxicated people.”
The laid-back crowd vibe, officials agreed, was likely a direct result of TBB’s decision to change the Brews aspect of Blues & Brews. For years, the festival held the Grand Tasting Saturday, a raucous event that offered free beer to attendees. Overconsumption was not uncommon, and in recent years law enforcement, park security, and medical services personnel have faced many other alcohol-related incidents. This year, TBB rolled out a new concept for festival beer lovers, a series of five smaller, ticketed tasting events spread over the three days. As Cohn noted, “it changed the whole dynamic of the crowd”.
SBG Partnership Director Patrick Shehan said the revamped tasting series stayed “true to the beer festival feel”. He reported that 300 tickets were sold for those events, which took place indoors at Warner Field, with 23 brewers represented.
“From what I’ve heard, it took a lot of the pressure off the park at the staggered tastings,” Shehan said. “We used to give away a lot of free beer and it wasn’t about tasting the beer. It was more a question of consumption. »
This new arrangement allowed beer connoisseurs to spend more time with brewers to understand how each beer was made.
“The beer nerds were like, ‘I need to talk to the brewers,'” Shehan said.
Also new this year was live video streaming of key stage acts coupled with interviews with artists, brewers and others conducted by KOTO Radio’s live streaming team. The radio station also aired the weekend’s music and interviews, as it has done for many years in partnership with SBG. Marketing director Jacob Bomersback reported that the live stream on Saturday drew 5,200 unique viewers worldwide.
“A lot of my job during the festival is to release content to the world and showcase the beauty of Telluride, and I think we did a great job in that regard,” Bomersback said. “This is an opportunity for the local and regional press to capture and highlight the magic of Telluride and its beauty.”
Beyond the Main Stage are the Town Ice Rink Blues Stage and the Campground Stage, where campers are treated to more intimate events. These locations, said SBG president and festival director Steve Gumble, “have been discovered”. With comfortable seating and respite from the elements found on the Blues stage, Gumble said he even took breaks from the sun there. In addition to blues acts, TBB offers comedy sets at the Blues Stage.
Gumble summed up why this year’s festival emerged after the weekend with flying colors.
“A rocking team, rocking weather,” he said. “Touch wood, we’ve been really lucky for the past four years. Global warming unfortunately works for us.