OURAY – The Ouray Chamber Resort Association and the City of Ouray’s Parks and Recreation Committee are on a mission to extend a popular regional summer concert series to Ouray during the month of June, starting this summer.
The towns of Ridgway and Paonia have banded together over the past several years to put on consecutive month-long outdoor concert series on Thursday evenings throughout July and August, promoted by the Paonia-based Pickin’ Productions.
The concerts bring in hot acts from across the country, including in Ridgway last year, Euforquestra, Lake Street Dive, Great American Taxi and Big Sam’s Funky Nation, which transformed Ridgway’s town park into a giant outdoor community party for four glorious summer evenings throughout July.
If organizers are successful in their mission of extending the series to Ouray, an entire summer’s worth of outdoor concerts in Ouray, Ridgway and Paonia could be billed as the “Western Slope Concert Series.”
According to a proposal presented to the Ouray City Council this week, Ouray concerts would be held on Thursday evenings on June 7, 14, 21 and 28 at Fellin Park adjacent to the Hot Springs Pool.
“Marketing this venue will bring a new crowd to the City of Ouray, expanding the use of the pool, parks, restaurants, hotels and retailers at a time of year that is still somewhat of a shoulder season for Ouray,” the proposal notes. “Adding the month of June to two already successful music venues on the Western Slope offers a new advertising arena for Ouray as well as the entire Western Slope for a full summer of free outdoor music concerts.”
The Ouray City Council has already indicated it is willing to allow Fellin Park to be used for this purpose. On Monday, OCRA boardmember and event chairperson Monica Moran told council the proposed music series needs about $30,000 worth of sponsorships by April 15 to get off the ground, and asked the city to consider committing $5,000 to the project, which would give it top billing as the presenter of the series.
“We are asking the city to consider a $5,000 sponsorship so it is the City of Ouray presenting this, not someone who is not connected from the heart,” Moran said.
While council wasn’t quite ready to commit to this significant unbudgeted expenditure, it did approve an allocation of about $1,500 in city resources to provide additional electrical infrastructure, police security and port-a-potties for the concert series.
Moran joined the OCRA board just recently, with the goal of getting the concert series going. “I really wanted music in our park,” she said. “Ridgway’s series is so much fun and it’s free; I thought it would be great to extend it to Ouray.”
Moran found a fellow conspirator in Dave Turner, a member of the city’s Parks and Recreation Committee who was “also really hot on the same thing.”
Moran said she isn’t sure yet which bands would come to Ouray, but added that Pickin’ Park Productions seems to have its finger on the pulse of the music industry.
“I’m excited the city is excited,” Moran said after the meeting. “I don’t mind the hard work it will take to get this going; I just want to make sure everyone involved is really behind the project. I want it to go on for many years to come; we need to be able to do it right to pull it off.”
Voyager Asks for Discounted Pool Rates
Voyager Youth Program Executive Director Karla Cline updated council this week on the mission of her organization, and asked council to consider reducing its group admission rate to the Hot Springs Pool for Ridgway students participating in Voyager’s Summer Enrichment Program. Ouray students already get into the pool for free.
Councilman John Ferguson said he worried about setting a precedent that the pool would then have to match for every student group that comes along, and added he thought the Ouray Pool’s admission scale was fair and reasonable already. He favored funding Voyager at a flat rate in the next budget season to help offset its pool admission cost.
Councilman Rich Kersen suggested the matter should be further probed in a work session.
Pool manager Tom Kavanaugh, meanwhile, questioned whether free access to the pool for Ouray students was “a little too much” and said he favored creating a “community service for pool passes” program.
First Ouray County Mud Fest
The Ouray Chamber Resort Association, Ridgway Area Chamber of Commerce and Ouray County are collaborating to host the first annual Ouray County Mud Fest, coming up on April 28. The event will be held at the Ouray County Fairgrounds, which will be transformed into a giant muddy playground with plenty of family-friendly activities, and will culminate with a Mud Ball at the Ouray Community Center.
Colorado’s Prettiest Winter Town
Ouray was the only town in Colorado to win a spot on Travel and Leisure magazine’s 2012 list of “Prettiest Winter Towns.” A blurb on that magazine’s website notes: “For all of the Rockies’ flashy resorts and rustic ranches, few places compare to the erstwhile mining town of Ouray when it comes to an authentic and adventurous winter vibe. Where else can you stroll streets with Victorian buildings, ogle ice climbers dangling from their pickaxes nearby, and then melt into the therapeutic warmth of a vapor cave discovered by miners searching for gold? While scaling enormous ice formations (or simply observing) may be the winter pastime of choice, there’s snowshoeing and skiing, too.”
Other towns that made the list include Grafton, Vt., Charlottesville, Va., Bozeman, Mt., Jackson, Wy., Bethel, Me., Lanesboro, Mn., Old Wethersfield, Ct., Walla Walla, Wa., Sandpoint, Id., and Red River, N.M., among others.