Oct 012009
Authors: Schiele Bryan

In a Colorado Brewers’ Festival 2010 Planning Committee meeting Thursday, committee members discussed possible changes to next summer’s Brewfest, including making the event a tasting event instead of a drinking celebration, but stressed the importance of the preliminary nature of the meeting.

Possible scenarios for the future of Brewfest include changing the event model to a tasting focus, moving the event from Old Town Square into an alternate downtown or offsite location, garnering greater brewery involvement and expanding the celebration by adding more music, food and games.

The 15-member committee was assembled by the Downtown Business Association following this year’s Brewfest when 115 downtown business owners signed a petition to move the festival out of Old Town, citing the attendees’ disruptive behavior and nuisances — violence, vomiting and urination near their storefronts — that led customers away from their businesses.

The committee includes representatives from the DBA, business owners, the City of Fort Collins, and Fort Collins Police Services. DBA Executive Director David Short said there has also been some mention of having an interest or focus group at CSU to include the community’s student demographic in the discussions.

Committee member Justine Reed, owner of the White Balcony and creator of the petition, said Thursday’s meeting was productive and that the process has been very beneficial so far.

“I think the outcome of this process will be a good one for the whole community,” Reed said, adding that the more community involved in the discussion the better and easier it will be to find a solution.

“This event impacts a broad range of community,” Reed said.

Prior to forming the committee, the DBA held an open house in late August in which the business community was allowed to express its ideas and concerns to work toward a positive solution.

The DBA also used public input gathered from Brewfest volunteers, letters, e-mails, blogs, Web site comments, newspaper articles and letters to the editor regarding the festival.

Short said Thursday’s meeting and all of the committee meetings are closed to the public and media due to the preliminary nature of the discussions and because “nothing is set in stone.”

Thursday’s meeting was the second of three scheduled committee meetings before an Oct. 14 DBA Board meeting in which the committee will present its findings and a potential recommendation to the DBA. The DBA Board meeting will be open to the public.

Wendy Poppen, committee member, owner of Ten Thousand Villages and DBA Board of Directors member, said the purpose of the committee meetings has been to “create a business mission statement . we want Brewfest to be fun, educational and open to everybody.”

“I think it’s a great event for Fort Collins,” Poppen said. “To me it’s outgrown the Old Town space.”

Committee member and owner of The Wright Life, Holly Wright, declined to comment on specific discussions in the meeting, pointing out that this is a long process that is in the very early stages.

Wright did say that the committee wants to make Brewfest “very inclusive” and accessible to the entire community, including CSU students.

“CSU students have been mentioned many times,” Wright said, adding that student comments and thoughts are being considered.

Poppen said she thinks there is a solution that is “doable for everybody.”

“(Brewfest) has the potential to be an even better event and a fun place for everyone,” Poppen said.

Staff Writer Bryan Schiele can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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