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Snowdown organizers impressed with turnout despite some cancellations

Next year’s event to feature a Shakespearean theme
Ray Godfrey as the Mad Hatter in the Snowdown Light Parade on Friday in downtown Durango. Snowdown organizers said the festival saw impressive turnouts despite a number of event cancellations related to the recent surge of COVID-19 cases. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

As Durango wraps up its 43rd annual Snowdown Festival, organizers say a magical time was had by all.

“In spite of the changes because of COVID-19, we saw great success,” said Snowdown board of directors Chairman Chip Lile. “I think everybody that participated had a great time.”

Lile said things were scaled back because of COVID-19, but turnout was positive.

“The traffic has been nice for our local businesses, and very welcomed,” Lile said. “Many of our businesses are still short-staffed and they still did great business all over town.”

Some highlights Lile noted were the Snowdown Light Parade on Friday, the Chili Cook-off and Bloody Mary contest on Saturday, and the many showings of the Snowdown Follies.

Organizers announced the theme of the 2023 Snowdown at this year’s Follies events.

“Next year's theme will be Snowdown in the Round: A Week With the Bard,” said Snowdown Follies emcee Dave Imming.

Next year’s Shakespearean theme will likely see a number of medieval and Elizabethan costumes, Imming said.

“There are so many different things that can be done with that theme,” he said.

Imming said he is thinking about reprising his character the Duke of Schirard from a medieval themed Snowdown in the past. The joke being that La Plata County’s longest-serving Sheriff was Sydney “Duke” Schirard.

“I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to speak with Duke Schirard before he passed, and he loved the fact that I used his name for my character,” Imming said.

Imming said people were excited this year to be able to participate in events like the Follies.

“People really needed it, I think,” Imming said. “The cabin fever reliever that Snowdown promises to be really came through on the promise this year.”

Next year, Lile said he’s hoping for more of a return to normal, but will be prepared to keep up COVID precautions if necessary.

“We hope that Snowdown will be back in full force next year,” Lile said. “That's what we’re planning for, is a Snowdown with no restrictions. But as the last two years have taught us, we just don’t know.”

Lile said a smaller Snowdown has taught organizers what is important about the festival.

“We really learned what people really like, and what they don’t miss so much,” Lile said. “We learned that our community understands the decisions we had to make this year and we thank them for supporting us.”

Lile said many festival goers thanked him and other organizers for working with San Juan Basin Public Health and taking COVID-19 concerns seriously.

“Overwhelmingly, people were very cooperative with our vaccination and test protocols,” Lile said. “Everybody was really supportive and didn’t complain. It was really nice to see, and people did thank us for that.”


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