Frisco begins discussions on future of town events
The Frisco Town Council held a high-level conversation about how to approach events moving forward, hoping to take advantage of the year-plus drought of gatherings to ensure the town’s festivals, concerts and contests are meeting the town’s goals.
Frisco officials broached the topic during a lengthy work session discussion Tuesday, Feb. 23. While no decisions were made with regard to what events will stay and what might go, the conversation did provide insights into how the Town Council and staff evaluate events.
“This is not a discussion about eliminating events at all,” council member Dan Fallon said. “This year has presented an opportunity that we might not have for generations — hopefully, we’ll never have it again in our lifetimes — to withdraw from each other and look at how these events really do live within our community, not just from a community connections standpoint but from a funding and resource application standpoint. … As these events repopulate, we really have a chance to look at these and understand the value of each one.”
Led by Communications Director Vanessa Agee, town staff walked council members through a presentation on some of Frisco’s current events and provided context on how the events came about as well as their role in the community. The group also discussed how they think about events on a yearly basis.
Agee explained that events are broken up into three categories:
- Civic and community events, which serve primarily to enhance quality of life for Frisco residents, like the Easter egg hunt and Town Clean Up Day
- Character and culture events, which focus on smaller more intimate experiences, like Concerts in the Park
- Signature and legacy events, which often have a long history in the community and provide significant economic impacts, like Wassail Days and the Colorado BBQ Challenge
With events sorted into a category or two, town staff annually goes through its list — currently at 41 events — to determine whether each fits into one of those “buckets” and if they still meet the Town Council’s goals of creating events that emphasize a thriving economy, vibrant culture, sustainable environment and inclusivity. Staff also analyzes the town’s return on investment for each event, which includes economic impacts, attendance numbers, media coverage and more.
“Each and every one of those events goes through a very thorough analysis — whether or not we run it, whether or not we continue to run it, do we change it?” Frisco Director of Recreation Diane McBride said. “All of that happens every single year. These events … really can indeed tie into the vision that you’re working on at this point in time. What is important to you, what is important to the community?”
Council members immediately had ideas on how to improve the event schedule in town, including offering more artistic-driven events for the town’s more creatively inclined denizens, and focusing on more organic events that would allow residents and visitors to check out different parts of town.
“A word that came to mind was decentralized,” council member Jessie Burley said. “And we can come up with events that are not date and time specific but that highlight different areas of town. … I love the idea of expanding concerts in the park, just to again decentralize and introduce people to new assets around town.”
Council members also voiced that even legacy and signature events that have been in town for a long time need to be looked at critically. Unsurprisingly, the Colorado BBQ Challenge, which represented a net $34,000 loss for the town in 2019, took center stage in the discussion.
“Many Main Street businesses don’t do well when we close Main Street for other events,” council member Andy Held said. “… I feel like we’re all dancing around the one event, and I could easily say on record I’m willing to remove the barbecue event from our budget, personally. … I think this event costs us too much. I think it costs our businesses too much.”
Still, that the town would decide to cut the BBQ Challenge, or any event, is far from a foregone conclusion.
Ultimately, the council asked staff to try to gather more information on the true costs, impacts and benefits events have on the town so that council members can hold a more informed conversation on the topic later this year.
With ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, it’s unlikely that bigger events like the BBQ Challenge, July Fourth celebrations and Fall Fest will return this year, even if restrictions loosen. In other words, officials will get another year to decide what events are worth keeping around. And as the council noted, every event is special to someone in town.
“I don’t see anything on the list that is just wrong for our town,” council member Andrew Aerenson said. “… So I’m not necessarily going to point at anything, because I think every one of them can be defended as worthy.”
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