Breckenridge plans for last-minute event cancellations amid rising COVID-19 cases |

Breckenridge plans for last-minute event cancellations amid rising COVID-19 cases

While altered to promote physical distancing, Breckenridge Town Council was concerned that planned events this winter, such as the Breckenridge Snow Sculpture Invitational, would draw crowds.
Rachel Lawlis / Courtesy Breckenridge Tourism Office

DILLON — The town of Breckenridge is reconsidering moving forward with events like Ullr Fest and the annual snow sculptures event, which the Breckenridge Tourism Office has planned to host in new formats with COVID-19 in mind. However, the town is concerned that despite the changes to the original events, they will still promote gathering at a time when cases in Summit County are rapidly rising.

Ten Days of Ullr, which will occur from Dec. 9-19, will feature an “Ullr tribute gallery of stationary art installations” dispersed around town in place of the parade, according to minutes from the Breckenridge Events Committee. There also will be a scavenger hunt called the Quest for Ullr, as well as a Breck’s Got Talent and Ullr king and queen coronation that will be viewable in live, virtual formats.

The Breckenridge Snow Sculpture Invitational, which is planned to occur from Jan. 26 to Feb. 7, will take place over two weekends with four to five small-scale sculptures dispersed around town. While the event will not be a competition as it was in the past, the tourism office plans to invite five teams of top sculptors from previous years and will focus on those that live within driving distance. 

When discussing the event plans at Tuesday’s council work session on Nov. 10, council member Erin Gigliello said the town needs to be cognizant of COVID-19 case numbers in the county as it’s uncertain where the county will be when these events are scheduled to take place. Mayor Eric Mamula said he is concerned about the amount of cars attempting to park around Beaver Run and the ice rink — two locations that have been selected as locations for snow sculptures — as people typically don’t walk to those places from town.

“That’s my biggest concern is that we are creating something that is going to draw people to it for mass congregation and that’s probably the last thing we should be doing right now,” Town Manager Rick Holman said.

Gigliello said she thinks the town needs to set a good example for people to not host gatherings. Assistant Town Manager Shannon Haynes explained that it’s understood that anything can happen during this time of COVID-19 and that events can get canceled. She noted that the idea that sculptors are within driving distance makes it easier to cancel. Mamula said the point of events is to bring people to town.

“If we’re not back to Level One by the time these things start, or Level One or better, it’s the wrong thing to do,” Mamula said. “At what point on that dial is it adequate for the (tourism office) to really do a couple things to bring some people to town?”

During the regular meeting, Breckenridge Tourism Office CEO and president Lucy Kay said that the office is not building events this winter like Ullr and snow sculptures as a draw to bring people to town, but are intended to be activities for people they expect to be here anyway. Kay said the tourism office has a plan for dispersing people around the sculptures, and the purpose of dispersing the sculptures around town is to promote physical distancing. 

“Just like oktober-FEAST was not an event,” Kay said. “It was like a placeholder, just something for people that were going to be here anyway. These other events are being planned with that same idea and we are fully prepared to change plans at the ninth hour.”

Kay said that everyone involved in these events understands plans can change and noted that contracts are being written with the possibility of sudden changes in mind. She said the last thing the tourism office would want to do is exacerbate health-related issues.

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