Steamboat Free Summer Concerts announces new partnership with Bonfire Entertainment
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — In the new partnership announced between Steamboat Free Summer Concerts and Bonfire Entertainment, worlds collide in an exciting evolution of the local music scene.
Steamboat Free Summer Concerts is among the longest-running, most locals-oriented music series in the Yampa Valley, bringing free shows to Steamboat Springs since 1993. The series sees an annual average attendance of 25,000 concert-goers to its five summer shows representing a wide range of genres including pop-rock, reggae, bluegrass, blues and funk. The organization is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, run by a volunteer board of directors.
First called 30th Street Productions, the organization that would eventually morph into Bonfire Entertainment has been operating since 1999. The organization spent time based in Vail, the Front Range and California until this past fall, when Scotty Stoughton, Bonfire founder and producer, and Mike Welle, partner and director of operations and concessions, moved their families to Steamboat.
The event production group produces music festivals across the country, including the WinterWonderGrass festivals — set in Steamboat; Squaw Valley, California; and Stratton, Vermont — as well as Campout for the Cause in Buena Vista. Events emphasize local community, sustainability and partnerships with nonprofits.
The new partnership began when the Steamboat Free Summer Concert’s previous partner, Colorado Event Rentals, resigned last spring to focus on internal growth. Steamboat Free Summer Concerts posted a call for proposals from potential production companies and, out of a pool of several attractive submissions, agreed that Bonfire Entertainment’s proposal and company was the best fit.
“We felt the Bonfire partnership was best for us,” Steamboat Free Summer Concerts Board President Ted Carey said. “The experience they bring to the table is world class, and they have a lot to offer.”
Bonfire Entertainment will be managing basically all aspects of guest experience. Carey noted that the recent rapid growth of attendance at the summer concerts had caused some operational complications, and Bonfire Entertainment brings experience and equipment that hasn’t previously been available.
“What’s important to us is what’s important to Steamboat Free Summer Concerts,” said Stoughton, who’s attended several concerts in the past as well as played at last summer’s End of Summer Jam with his band, Bonfire Dub, alongside Billy Strings and Buffalo Commons.
The partnership aims to honor the heritage of the concert series while focusing on increased concert-goer safety, sustainability and vendor layout.
“We’re figuring out, how do we leave the place cleaner than we found it? How do we make an environment that’s friendly to everyone of all ages?” Stoughton said. “Our goal is to raise the bar of the experience.”
In keeping with tradition, the Steamboat Free Summer Concerts series lineup for summer 2020 will be announced at a Lineup Reveal Party on April 3 at Thunderhead Lodge. The ticketed event also offers live music, silent auctions and top-of-the-gondola views. More details and tickets will be available in the early spring at keepinitfree.com.
Julia Ben-Asher is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.
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