Summer’s event schedule in Steamboat will look more normal after 2020’s cancellations
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Last year saw about 75% of summer events in Steamboat Springs get canceled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But this year, the summer events slate is expected to look more normal.
Rachel Lundy, executive assistant and special event coordinator with the city of Steamboat, was busy Wednesday reviewing applications for special event permits. In the past two weeks she’s been getting almost an application a day.
“There’s a huge pent-up demand for special events this summer,” Lundy said.
So far, the city has received 29 applications for special events this summer. That includes a wide range of events, from the Steamboat Marathon, Half-Marathon and 10K to weddings and other private events that require permits to be held on city-owned property and venues.
Steamboat Springs Chamber Executive Director Kara Stoller has been thrilled to see special events returning this summer, and not only ones that draw crowds but also smaller private events that are the “bread and butter” for many locals. COVID-19 regulations set by the state and local government kept group gathering limits to a minimum in summer 2020, which was a large hurdle for the event industry.
“Event producers, venue managers, caterers, photographers, supply and equipment providers, florists, personal service providers, performers — and the list goes on in regards to businesses that encompass the event industry that was decimated last year,” Stoller said.
Early indications show that most of the traditional summer’s events will return this year, along with a few new ones.
The Steamboat Roubaix, a bike race that was scheduled for 2020, will make its debut next month after being delayed by COVID-19. The Yampa River Festival and the 40th anniversary of the Steamboat Marathon, Half-Marathon and 10K are slated to return in June. Art in the Park, the Steamboat Mountain Soccer Tournament and Steamboat Doubles Volleyball Tournament are all expected this July. The SBT GRVL Race, slated for August, is already sold out.
“These events may not happen as they had in 2019. It might just be a smaller rendition of them, but these all are planning to take place in some form or fashion,” Lundy said.
Noticeably absent last year was the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series, which will return to the rodeo grounds throughout this summer. That event is unique, however, as event organizers have an agreement with the city and does not require going through the special permitting process. And despite Steamboat Springs City Council voting 4-3 in January not to renew Triple Crown’s two-year contract, the youth sports event applied to return through the city’s special events process and will host three events this summer starting in June.
Two exceptions this summer, however, will include the Mustang Roundup, which left last summer at the height of the pandemic. Organizers of that event were already looking for a new location before the pandemic and relocated to Colorado Springs where there was more room for its Show & Shine, as well as a nearby facility that could host additional events. Vettes on the Rockies, an event that brings Corvettes and their enthusiasts to Steamboat every other year, is one of the few so far to postpone its 2021 event. Organizers of that event hope that any restrictions will end by summer 2022.
Lundy said that applicants for special events must be submitted 45 days in advance of the event, and that has given a pretty good idea of how the start of the summer will look. As of Friday, Lunday had received 29 applications. In 2019, the city received 75 special events applications for the entire year.
“Almost all events that we normally have in a year are going to take place,” Lundy said of 2021.
The annual Steamboat Pilot & Today Hot Air Balloon Rodeo, which is scheduled for July 10 and 11, and the Keepin’ It Free Steamboat Free Summer Concerts are expected to return in 2021, but Lundy said those have yet to file for a special events permit.
The Fourth of July parade remains uncertain as the Steamboat Chamber, which hosts the event, is still having discussions as to whether or not the event will be possible and safe this year.
“I still want to be able to throw a community celebration as we have for so many years and through the parade all be together,” Stoller said. “But at the same time we really want to be incredibly cautious and responsible for the event and what transpires there, so it’s a really challenging decision.”
Stoller said the discussions are continuing and she expects a decision by the end of May.
COVID-19 protocols will continue to be considered when planning and approving events, as both Stoller and Lundy said. If an event’s protocols do not meet health standards at the time, Lundy said adjustments may have to be made.
Stoller is optimistic that while group events may still face restrictions based on COVID-19 protocols, the fact that applications for permits have increased may signal a turning point for those that make a living off events and somewhat of a return to normalcy.
“The city’s process for event approval has set into place protocols to ensure events align with community values, fiscal benefits and the city’s capacities,” Stoller said. “With that, events that return will be welcomed, and I think it is important to note and remember the residents whose livelihood depend on the success of this industry as we shift back to a time where gatherings are no longer restricted.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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