Breckenridge plans to require new events to incorporate sustainability, social equity and philanthropy |

Breckenridge plans to require new events to incorporate sustainability, social equity and philanthropy

Breckenridge’s events, including Oktoberfest, were put on hold in 2020 due to the pandemic. Now, the town is reevaluating its event goals and setting standards for future events.
Photo by Louie Traub / Breckenridge Tourism Office

Breckenridge plans to send out a survey to gauge community sentiment on events in town with hopes of finding out which are most impactful to residents — positively or negatively. The town is also planning to update its existing event ordinances and rules to require sustainability, social equity and philanthropic components.

Mayor Eric Mamula explained that the town is taking the opportunity to reevaluate events after stopping most gatherings for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Breckenridge Tourism Office CEO Lucy Kay said that in a 2019 resident survey, 80% of respondents felt events and festivals “add value to Breckenridge.” Kay also went over the questions posed in the 2019 survey, asking the Town Council what changes they would want for the upcoming outreach effort.

Council member Kelly Owens said she thinks most people would say events add value to the town. However, she said some might not want certain events, and it would be more helpful to know if people support the number of events that are held in town. Mamula suggested asking people if the positives of events outweigh the negatives they’ve experienced. Council member Dick Carleton suggested trying to figure out which events most negatively impact residents as part of the survey.

“I’d be interested in knowing what types of events bring the most disruption to individuals,” Carleton said.

Assistant Town Manager Shannon Haynes said that more specific questions are helpful because residents often lump the general feeling of business in town into the topic of events, even if no events are actually occurring during that time.

“March is slammed, (but) we don’t have any events in March,” Haynes said. “March is an event in and of itself. So I do really like Dick’s idea about trying to drill down … into if they could specify either an event or a type of event that has a negative impact on them, or maybe on both sides of the coin, find out what has a positive impact.”

The town’s events matrix, which serves as a guide for prioritizing events, lists three reasons for why the town hosts events: branding and media, to build business, and community and goodwill. Mamula said the community goodwill piece is the most important reason for hosting events and should be focused on. He said that the events that locals enjoy are the ones that resonate with visitors, as well.

“I don’t know that I want to build the shoulder season anymore,” Mamula said. “I don’t know that I want to drive a ton more traffic here at certain times of the year.”

Council member Carol Saade pointed out that a component of the town’s destination management plan is to build a year-round economy, so events fit into the policy at certain times of the year, particularly the shoulder season. Owens countered that she doesn’t feel the town has a shoulder season to build on anymore, and that growing business during this time doesn’t need to be a factor for event scheduling. Haynes said the three categories could be prioritized, with the community goodwill category ranking first and the build business category ranking last.

Mamula said going forward, any new event needs to have a “defined give-back provision,” like a portion of the admission ticket sales benefiting a local nonprofit.

Council member Erin Gigliello added that she would like to see sustainability and social equity components included in future events, as well. She noted that sustainability is already included as a standard for the issuance of an event permit, but social equity is not. Gigliello said she would like to ask the town’s Social Equity Advisory Commission how this element could be incorporated into the standards, but she said it could be incorporated into the event itself or in the values of the business promoting the event. Carleton agreed with the sentiment.

“The sustainability and the equity piece to these events should become an expectation,” Carleton said. “If somebody says, ‘I can’t afford to hire the groups to sort the recycling,’ well then you can’t have the event.”

Haynes said staff would look at how town event ordinances might be updated to achieve the goals the council brought up.

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