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Snowdown chairman impressed by festival’s attendance

Next year’s winter celebration to feature a hippie theme with ‘Peace, Love and Snowdown’
After two years of COVID-19-related setbacks, Snowdown returned this year with its best turnout in recent years. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

The traveling lamp hast set on yet another Snowdown, and as Shakespeare wroteth in his Lady Macbeth, “What’s done can’t be undone.”

And that is just fine with Snowdown organizers, who say this year’s winter festival saw a better turnout than in recent years.

Last year’s events were scaled back because of an uptick in COVID-19 cases, but this year had fewer COVID-19 concerns and no health restrictions, said Chip Lile, chairman of the Snowdown board of directors.

“It’s hard to say, but it seemed like we had a good turnout just about everywhere, and definitely more than previous years,” he said.

Lile also noticed more people coming into town for this year’s event.

Snowdown event coordinators don’t count how many people show up for events, but Lile said many events appeared to reach capacity.

The Snowdown Light Parade, Chili Cook-off and Bloody Mary Contest all stood out for their high attendance.

Saturday’s No Tragedy Quaffing Tournament also packed the patio of 11th Street Station with spectators who had to stand on chairs just to get a view of the action. A bracket of 32 teams battled to see who could chug beer the fastest.

Above-average snowfall that gave way to warm, sunny days also helped, Lile said.

The large crowd sizes illustrate the need for larger venues in Durango, he said.

“I think the community, in general, needs a bigger arts center with more capacity for theater stuff,” he said. “... Also, venues like the fairgrounds are great, but they could be bigger, too.”

A pitch was made in 2018 to build an arts, conference and events center that would have cost between $37 million and $47 million. But nothing came to fruition.

Durango Police Chief Bob Brammer said the number of alcohol-related offenses increased during Snowdown weekend.

Some of the incidents involved drunken people trespassing at businesses and hotels. There were also a few more fights than usual.

“I think every year we have an issue with that and it’s kind of cultural in Durango,” he said. “I know that we’ve heard this from community members and business owners that sometimes things do get a little rowdy and a little out of control.”

There were two DUI arrests made last weekend, including one involving a driver who drove off the road in the 1300 block of Goeglein Gulch Road.

The Durango Police Department has been working with liquor stores as well as restaurants and bars to ensure safe practices when serving alcohol.

“I think this is where we, as a community, really need to take a look at ourselves a little bit and say let’s have a great time and celebrate but let’s do it responsibly,” Brammer said.

Next year’s Snowdown theme will be “Peace, Love and Snowdown,” and event attendees are likely to see participants in their favorite hippie attire.

Lile said the board of directors felt the theme was something the community would be interested in and it would have a different feel than the Shakespeare theme.

“Thank you to all the volunteers and people who helped us for making it great,” he said.


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