Frisco hosts record-setting BBQ fest
Ryan Summerlin June 27, 2012
Attendees of Frisco’s Colorado BBQ Challenge set records during the mid-June event.
An estimated 33,000 people came to the event, a 10 percent increase over 2010, and Hog Back tickets increased 16 percent over 2010, bringing in $464,708.
“That’s record-setting against 2010, in which we had similar weather and great attendance,” Frisco marketing and communications director Suzanne Lifgren said, adding, “We think people are spending more money, which is great, instead of just more people coming. That’s good for small towns like us because we have a limit to how many people can come here.”
Downtown hotels were at 97 percent capacity, and other major contributing hotels hovered at 92 percent capacity.
Lifgren said vendors were paid $344,028, which exceeds the town’s estimate of $330,000. Event expenses are estimated at $135,000, which means the town lost money overall. Exact figures won’t be available for about a month or so, Lifgren said, though she added the Colorado BBQ Challenge doesn’t typically see a profit.
“We look at this as a marketing event. To bring 35,000 people to this town for very little money is good marketing,” Lifgren said.
A few years ago, the town redirected the event to have more of a festival atmosphere. Wider music selections, the chef demonstrations and the newest addition – the Bacon Burner 10k – makes it more attractive to a wider variety of people and brings the festival closer to paying for itself.
Another expense for the town is the $45,000 donation to local nonprofits in exchange for organizational and volunteer support. The 19th Annual Colorado BBQ Challenge nonprofit partners were Advocates for Victims of Assault, Summit County Restaurant Association, High Country Conservation Center, Summit Independent Business Alliance, Mountain Mentors and Women of the Summit.
The event also indirectly benefited 14 nonprofits by providing an avenue for the organizations to fundraise. They generated more than $35,000 by selling funnel cake, corn, baked goods, chocolate-covered bacon and more.
Lifgren said 186 kegs of beer were sold during the event – another impressive number. She speculated that’s more kegs than Breckenridge’s Oktoberfest uses during its beer-oriented event.
BBQ Challenge organizers added the Bacon Burner 10k this year, which attracted more than 300 runners and tallied nearly $6,000 in registration fees.
Thursday’s evening kickoff concert featured the Motet, drawing an estimated 4,000 people to dance in the street, while the Breckenridge Distillery Whiskey Tour sold out.
It’s not easy work, putting on the Colorado BBQ Challenge, Lifgren said. It requires more than 10 percent of the community to volunteer. Serving 33,000 people requires more than 376 volunteers, 20 coordinators, and the support of residents and town staff, including special efforts from the police and public works departments.
“The event’s success is a reflection of the people involved,” Lifgren said, to which event manager Nora Gilbertson added, “Setting new records for attendance and receiving high accolades for the organization of the BBQ competition makes all the hard work worthwhile.”