Frisco beefing up BBQ Challenge security to crack down on outside alcohol, pets
The Frisco Town Council moved Tuesday afternoon to nearly quadruple security at the town’s annual BBQ Challenge in June, citing concerns over outside alcohol and violations of the event’s no-pets policy.
Council balked at another proposal to increase security out the town’s Fourth of July Parade. Like the BBQ Challenge, that event has grown in popularity over the years, forcing officials to balance the logistics of handling bigger crowds with maintaining the relaxed, small-town feel that differentiates them from counterparts in Breckenridge.
The BBQ Challenge, now in its 25th year, has grown into the biggest summer event in Summit County, spanning six blocks down Main Street and drawing tens of thousands of people from across the state. But the open-plan site makes security difficult, prompting town staff to request additional resources this year.
“For an event this size it is remarkable that we’ve been working with only seven security guards,” Vanessa Agee, the town’s marketing and communications director, told council during a work session Tuesday. “It’s a pretty big event site, and it’s a lot of people.”
The first BBQ Challenge in 1993 had only 12 teams competing on the lawn of the Frisco Historic Park and Museum. Since then, the competition has expanded to more than 70 teams drawing at least 30,000 visitors, but security has remained relatively modest.
Council unanimously granted town staff’s request to increase security staff from seven personnel to 24 for just over $15,300, roughly $10,000 more than last year. That includes $420 for radios that will allow guards to communicate better with police and fire personnel.
Other safety improvements will likely include logoed barricades at the event entrances and side streets as well as better orientation and training materials for security staff.
The two main goals of the added security are to keep out outside alcohol — a major concern for an event liquor license — and keeping dogs out of the event. Agee said Frisco police chief Tom Wickman thinks a few “well-placed” tickets on the first day of the event would also send the message quickly and discourage rule-breaking. (Wickman could not be reached for comment Wednesday).
The town is not considering bag checks or controlled entry and exit points. But in the bigger picture, the hope is that beefed-up security will help keep the event safe from the unthinkable, namely some kind of violent attack.
“We think that this will do a lot in getting us where we need to go considering that there is a climate now where people seem to be targeting events,” Agee said. “Hopefully never in our town, but we would like to be prepared.”
The main concern with the Fourth of July Parade, which now draws more than 10,000 spectators, is the safety of children, who often run into the street to snatch up candy thrown from floats.
For the past four years, Frisco has paid nonprofit groups to marshal the parade and keep kids off of the route “with varying levels of success,” according to a memo from town staff.
The Frisco Police department asked council to consider lining the parade route with barricades, mimicking Breckenridge and other larger parades. That would cost an estimated $4,500 to $5,000, or about $1,000 more than paying volunteer marshals.
Council rejected that idea, fearing it would change the laid-back vibe of the event and make it feel less welcoming, eliminating a presumed advantage of Frisco’s parade.
“If we’re trying to maintain a small town community atmosphere, I would say parades are at the core to that,” councilwoman Kim Cancelosi said. “We don’t want to handle it like they do in Denver or the ski resort towns like Breckenridge.”
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