Losing Seven Peaks breaks my heart. I feel as if I have lost a family member.
The festival delivered so much happiness, community, love and prosperity to our valley. It was so close to being established as a permanent fixture in Chaffee County ... our own Telluride Bluegrass Festival, which celebrated its 48th year in Telluride last month. (And provides a $34.7 million impact over four days.)
I will forever cherish helping create so many moments of magic with all the great people at Country Nation, Dierks and his crew.
Over the last several years, I’ve watched Dierks, his fellow musicians and Country Nation develop a deep appreciation for our valley and its residents. They conveyed that love for our home to thousands of spectators. It was inspiring to see so many recognize the beauty and awesomeness of our home.
The day Chaffee County’s commissioners turned down Seven Peaks because of COVID concerns, Gov. Jared Polis ended 16 months of health emergency orders, marking what he called “an exciting milestone for the people of our state” and a “testament to our resilience and united commitment in the fight against this deadly virus.”
Two days later tens of thousands gathered for All-Star baseball, concerts, festivals and events around the state. Polis has even set aside $10 million to encourage organizers to bring more conventions, meetings and festivals to Colorado as part of an $800 million effort to revive the state’s economy.
The commissioners’ reasoning behind rejecting this event is not sound. The loss of Seven Peaks will be felt by our entire community for a very long time. Even those who didn’t recognize the benefits will eventually understand this loss, especially when we see other communities eagerly scrambling to host Live Nation and Seven Peaks.
Now we are at risk of losing our next world-class event … “Meet Me at the Creek.” While we technically have a permit to hold the bluegrass festival September 24th and 25th, 2021 at The Meadows, the commissioners have required the sound of music at the property boundary to be limited to 50 decibels. That is the sound level of a refrigerator.
Hopefully losing Seven Peaks will be a wake-up call to everyone in this county that we need to celebrate these rare events as opportunities for coming together and sharing our beautiful valley. Organizers spent hundreds of thousands in our community. Spectators spent millions.
The discomfort of a few from the impacts of three days of music should not be enough to kill an event that delivers so much to so many. Yes we can mitigate events and work to keep impacts to a minimum. But a community so close to establishing a vibrant year-round economy cannot so readily reject a handful of annual events that support so many citizens.
Hopefully our commissioners will learn this from the loss of Seven Peaks: when you treat people poorly enough, long enough, they will leave. And when Live Nation is turned away, other businesses and organizers will cross Chaffee County off the list of possible partners for one-of-a-kind events. We have lost more than a festival.
Jed W. Selby