Frisco Barbecue Challenge a bummer for some businesses
FRISCO – The Colorado Barbecue Challenge is one of the most popular events in Frisco among locals and visitors – but not necessarily with Main Street merchants.
The Summit County Rotary Club has sponsored the event for the past seven years.
After hearing about some merchant dissatisfaction with the event, Brenda Cameron, head honcho of the barbecue challenge and director of fund raising for the Summit County Rotary, circulated a survey among Main Street businesses to determine merchants’ sentiments. Cameron included questions about all the Main Street events for comparison, she said.
Though several business owners expressed dissatisfaction with the barbecue challenge and other events that closed Main Street to vehicular traffic, few indicated they wish to see the events discontinued.
Only 32 of the 64 businesses contacted responded to the survey. They were asked to rate each event’s effect on their businesses – 1 the most negative, and 10 the most positive. The responses indicated the Fourth of July had the least negative impact on businesses (it rated 7 out of 10). The barbecue challenge and Volks March/Octoberfest, each earning a rate of 5 out of 10, received the lowest marks.
Last week, the Frisco Chamber of Commerce hosted a meeting that included Cameron, Main Street merchants and Frisco town officials.
Chamber president Scott Brunvand said the meeting was a first step in an effort to find a better solution for all parties involved. Parking was one of the greatest concerns among merchants, he said.
Cameron said several merchants reported Main Street closures and the events have impacted their businesses negatively.
Barkley’s Margarita Grill is on the east end of Main Street and is not directly blocked by the street closures. Even so, restaurant owner Dan Fallon said, the barbecue challenge “historically has been one of our worst weekends of the summer.”
Business at the restaurant is down on both the Friday and Saturday of the event, he said.
Though the street closure has not yet impacted her business significantly, Barb Cole, owner of the Barnyard on the other end of Main Street, said the closure in front of her store affects the availability of parking for her customers.
“It’s very difficult to try to do business,” Cole said, adding she’s afraid her customers might eventually go elsewhere to shop, since there is no parking available close to her business on event days.
Though several survey comments indicated dissatisfaction with the barbecue challenge in particular, only five respondents said they would like to see the event discontinued.
Cole said she would like to see the events alternate between the east and west ends of Main Street. Fallon said he would like to see the event move to a different venue.
Some suggested alternate locations such as the Lakefront Park and Marina or the County Commons.
But Frisco community relations director Linda Lichtendahl said it would be difficult to move the event.
“We are somewhat limited, because we do not have an event venue like a Riverwalk or a Dillon Amphitheatre, and our main event venue is Main Street,” she said. “It’s been proven – when you close your Main Street, it’s a very desirable, charming place to hold an event.”
Events such as the barbecue challenge also are not created to increase local business, Lichtendahl said.
“The main purpose of these events,” she said, ” is to bring people to Frisco – (to) make their experience memorable, so they’ll want to come back.”
Though moving the event might not be among the solutions, those at last week’s meeting suggested creating a subcommittee to look at options. Cameron said the subcommittee will be composed of some Rotary Club members, Main Street business owners and town officials.
Cameron said she’s hopeful the subcommittee will find some solutions to lessen the impact of Main Street events on local businesses.
“Nobody really wants it to go away,” she said. “Everybody really likes it.”
Lu Snyder can be reached at 970-668-3998, ext. 203, or
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