Parachute goes all out for Oktoberfest
In sticking with a theme in recent years, the town of Parachute is pushing and hoping its annual Oktoberfest, which officially gets underway Saturday in Cottonwood, is bigger and better than the previous year.
In many ways the town is going all out for the festival, which is viewed as an economic development tool to bring people into Parachute. It will feature live music, a brewfest with Colorado and regional breweries, camping options, and games and rides for the whole family.
“The sole intent, the whole reason we’re doing this is for economic development,” said Derek Wingfield, community development director.
At the heart of it all is the event’s headlining act, Chase Rice, an on-the-rise country musician who released his most recent single, “Everybody We Know Does,” shortly after signing the deal to play Parachute’s Oktoberfest. It is the only Colorado date on his current tour, and tickets, which are $25 in advance and $30 the day of, are available at http://bit.ly/2drGLLN.
“We were teasing that when we signed Chase he was an up-and-coming support artist. … We kind of knew there were some things changing, which was where we gambled,” Wingfield said while noting Rice’s recent performance on the “Today Show.”
That gamble, which also included opening act Mark Wills, another country musician, and a fireworks display, carried at $100,000 price tag, under a contract approved earlier this year.
It marks the second year in a row that the town has sought to bring in a nationally touring act in order to boost the event’s profile. Last year, which featured Jon Pardi, was somewhat of a learning experience.
The town opted for a two-day event with the concert on Friday and activities throughout the day Saturday. The thought process was that jamming everything into one day would make for too long a day for people, especially families.
However, the result was a smaller-than-hoped-for crowd at the concert, which competed with area high school football games, and much more work for town staff.
“It had some shortcomings,” Wingfield said of last year’s Oktoberfest. “It’s funny how far more work it is to put on the two-day event than the one-day event.”
Since last year Wingfield, town staff and others have worked to rectify the shortcomings from last year. They partnered with 92.3 the Moose from Grand Junction on the event. The radio station had a similar situation with its end-of-summer festival, in that last year it was a two-day event and this year was a one-day event. The result, according to Wingfield, was much better turnout this year.
In response to requests for a more authentic Oktoberfest, organizers added the brewfest, which includes a souvenir glass and unlimited tasting for $20. It runs from 2-5 p.m. Saturday. While organizers wanted to meet requests they also wanted to keep the event family friendly, which was the rationale for limiting the hours of the brewfest, Wingfield said.
The games and attractions, including a zipline, will continue throughout the day, and although they’re more targeted toward younger crowds, Wingfield said there were plenty of adults who had their share of fun last year. This year they added lasertag.
Tickets for all-day access are $5 in advance and $10 the day of the event.
Camping options were added to provide more options for people looking to stay in town. Through a combination of ramped-up promotional efforts and having a name like Chase Rice, early ticket sales seem to indicate success in reaching crowds beyond the local area.
“It’s not a podunk show anymore,” Wingfield said. “It is a national tour date caliber show here from the stage, the sound and the entourage that’s coming into town.”
As of Sept. 19 there had been 600 tickets purchased via 280 transactions. Of those 280 transactions, only 36 were in the Parachute to Rifle area, according to Wingfield. Another 150 tickets were sold between then and last Friday.
While the draw from the surrounding regions, such as the Front Range, and even other states is encouraging, Wingfield said he is hoping plenty of locals will come out and enjoy the event as well.
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