Movement Fest expected to ignite Steamboat economy alongside yogi spirits |

Movement Fest expected to ignite Steamboat economy alongside yogi spirits

Whitney Geiger takes part in an outdoor yoga class held at the Community Garden in Steamboat Springs led by Chelsea Call and Charlie Chase.
John F. Russell

In recent years, Americans have recognized the myriad health and spiritual benefits of practicing yoga and have fueled a $27-billion industry. Yoga’s revenue has quickly surpassed by a wide margin the value of other professional sports industries. The NFL, by comparison, had $10 billion in revenue in 2013 and hopes to achieve $25 billion by 2027.

Steamboat Springs will invest in a portion of the yoga industry during the first annual Steamboat Movement Fest. The festival will feature a variety of yoga, dance and other movement classes, as well as music and food from July 23-26.

“When I’m looking at growing industries to help the local economy in Steamboat, I’m looking at yoga,” said Movement Fest managing director Talaya Thomas. “It’s not a trend that’s going away, so why not capitalize on it?”

Even in a town with lucrative summer events happening every week, the possible revenue from the four-day Movement Fest could spark the local economy.

Through visitor surveys, the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association estimated the average party (two people) spent $1,394 during their average four-day stay during summer 2014. Movement Fest organizers expecxt 350 people to attend the festival for the three and a half days of events.

Based upon expenditure estimates from the Chamber, attendees would spend a combined $243,950.

Organizers of the festival anticipate in excess of $100,000 in additional expenditures during the weekend of the movement festival.

They analyzed data from similar festivals, notably the Aspen Wanderlust Festival during the weekend of July 4. On average, each person at Wanderlust spent $1,000 during the event’s first year. Using Wanderlust’s data, Movement Fest would pump an extra $350,000 into the Steamboat community.

When expenditures from yoga festivals were compared with that of other distinguished sporting events in Colorado, yoga came out on top.

In 2012, the USA Pro Cycling Challenge’s direct fiscal impact on Boulder from spectators was a disappointing $48,000, while the event itself cost the city $283,481. The same year, $240,000 flowed into the city economy from the Hanuman Festival.

The co-founder of Hanuman, Valerie D’Ambrosio, served as Movement Fest’s event consultant, offering her insight on the economic, spiritual and community benefits of yoga festivals.

“I’ve seen Hanuman grow so much since the first year,” D’Ambrosio said. “(This growth includes) money and participants, as well as the organic growth of community building. These festivals give us an opportunity to contribute, a human need we all have.”

Festivals like this also have given yogis and yoga retailers a platform through which to establish a reputation and sustain themselves financially solely through yoga. Movement Fest will feature a little more than 50 percent local instructors.

“Yoga instructors are small business owners,” said Kristen Rockford, CEO of Movement Fest. “We have around 40 yoga teachers in Steamboat, which is an unusual number per capita. When people think about supporting local, they should think about not only the grocery stores and restaurants, but also these local instructors and studios.”

In acknowledging the festival’s clear intentions of supporting local businesses, the city’s special events funding committee granted $6,800 to support the event’s $100,000 budget.

“The idea behind the special events funding initiative was to support new events and new businesses,” said Jim Clark, CEO of the Steamboat Chamber. “Movement Fest was well-received by the funding committee in this regard and got $6,800 for it.”

Organizers anticipate rapid growth beyond the estimated $350,000 as the festival gains more attention in the national and global yoga communities. Such growth parallels the 29 percent increase in Americans who practiced yoga reported by Yoga Journal.

“Our first year, we would like to get it off the ground and make it small, sweet and clean, about 350 participants,” Thomas said. “Year one will set a precedent for years two and three. The numbers we’d like to see by year three is around 1,500-2,000 people.

“We are Ski and Bike Town USA. Now let’s also make it a yoga town.”

For more information and ticket to Movement Fest, visit

To reach Liz Forster, call 970-871-4374, email or follow her on Twitter @LizMForster

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