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Get ready for peace, love and to throw down for Snowdown

Durango’s winter festival welcomes 200 events over 10 days
The Annual Snowdown Light Parade makes its way up Main Avenue during Snowdown in 2023. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

The winter festival filled with booze, costumes and ridiculous events is back for its 45th year.

That’s right, Love, Peace and Snowdown is here with an extensive lineup of events meant to defeat cabin fever.

The now 10-day festival will feature a record-high 200 events this year, said Tim Walsworth, executive director of the Business Improvement District and Snowdown board member.

The Snowdown board is trying to top its efforts from 2023, which was a rebound year for the event coming off the COVID-19 pandemic.

In recent years, the festival has expanded, going from just five days to almost two weeks worth of Snowdown events.

“We’ve had to open it up to the weekend before because the money-making arm of Snowdown is the Snowdown Follies,” said Snowdown board member Dave Imming. “And when we lost the Henry Strater Theater during COVID, we lost 50% of our revenue.”

In order to make up the difference, the Snowdown committee decided to start the event a week earlier. The committee initially tried to schedule the Follies a week earlier, but ran into problems because attendees didn’t like going to the Follies before the festival started.

Once again, the major Snowdown event is sold out at the Durango Arts Center. Snowdown went to the expanded schedule in 2022, but board members noticed turnout was lower because people were still wary of COVID-19.

Teams compete during the Snowdown No Nonsense Quafing Tournament at 11th Street Station in 2022. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

However, Imming said the festival saw an influx of participants in 2023, and everyone wanted in on the downtown fun this year. He added that this year’s theme was an easy one to get involved with because everyone “had hippie clothes in their closet.”

This year’s lineup welcomes a plethora of new events including “Speed Friending” at the Durango Public Library on Saturday. The library is welcoming participants to an opportunity to socialize and mingle with a speed-dating set up, but without the pressure of romance.

Another event making its Snowdown debut is the “Murder mystery at The Gable House” at 3 p.m. Friday.

Patrons can also figure out who committed the murder at the Gable House in a classic “Who done it?” mystery.

Over the years, the festival has grown, welcoming more visitor from around the Four Corners.

“People look to come to this event years in advance at the Strater Hotel in order to get a room overlooking Main Avenue.” Imming said. “Stuff like that really drives commerce tourism because that’s what Snowdown is about. Three things we promote are fun, commerce and tourism.”

Walsworth, who runs the Snowdown social media profiles, said this year’s event has already garnered interest from visitors from Kentucky and Nevada.

Daryl Pomberlin dressed for Snowdown Fashion Do’s and Don’ts at the La Plata County Fairgrounds in 2020. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

The Outhouse Stuffing competition at Gazpacho Restaurant will also return this year. It’s the first time the festival has hosted the event since the COVID-19.

This is an event where groups try to see how many people they can fit into one outhouse. Walsworth believes the record is somewhere around 28. He also wants to assure people the portable toilets have never been used before and that everything about the event is clean. The Outhouse Stuffing Competition starts at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Walsworth said the BID was also involved with a new event this year called the Glowdown at Snowdown, which is a hot air ballon event similar to the Animas Valley Balloon Rally.

“It’s family friendly, free, super fun, unique setting, great photos, kids love it,” he said.

Over the years, the board has emphasized the addition of more family friendly events to the festival. Walsworth touted that about 15% of this year’s events were family friendly, describing family friendly as non-alcohol related, cost efficient and specifically geared toward children.

Jacob Liemhardt, stirs his red cowboy beef chili as the Spring family behind him gets ready to serve the public their Shiner Bock chili on during the 2022 Snowdown Chili Cook Off in the Exhibit Building at the La Plata County Fairgrounds. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

There will also be shuttles running from the La Plata County Fairgrounds to the Durango Transit Center to alleviate parking this year. The shuttles will run from 3 to 8 p.m. and will arrive every 20 minutes.

“We are very proud that we’re bringing Snowdown to Durango and getting that out there to help our bars and restaurants make their payrolls in January and February because it’s generally not the time of year where there’s a lot of people in the downtown area,” Imming said.

A full list of this year’s events can be found online at snowdown.org.


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