Glenwood needs to offer a pop culture fix
Small-town rural Colorado: This is a concept that many natives of this state embrace and will do anything to protect. As one of these rare creatures, I, too, seek to protect our precious hometown feel. Glenwood Springs, however, has a unique location. We are the gateway to Aspen and Vail; young, fresh active places that are sought after for their cutting edge culture and style. They are trendsetter towns. We need to reap the benefits of our unique location, step up and play ball with the big boys.Glenwood Springs is the home of the world renowned Hot Springs Pool; the Hotel Colorado in all its grandeur; the Yampah Vapor Caves, a unique retreat; and the Glenwood Caverns, a natural wonder that never fails to excite. Sunlight Mountain Resort has been a small-town staple for years. People learned how to ski there and grew up knowing its nooks and crannies. Our history is amazing, the people and events that have filtered through our streets over the centuries are a treasure to remember. All of these things are what make Glenwood Springs great. We should hang on to and enjoy our past and present with our children’s children. But we have a new wave of pioneers living, relocating and traveling through here, and evolution is inevitable.Growing up rural, my hometown of Durango ebbed and changed as the years and decades rolled along. It was always a place with a great deal of potential. There were no big resorts in town, but we had our attractions. Tourism was a good chunk of our bread and butter. But it seemed like it was on the edge of change. With the growth of Fort Lewis College and the change of guard at Purgatory, we saw an influx of young influences. Change it did. I see this inclination here in Glenwood Springs.Vail and Aspen are a stone’s throw from our city limits. These resort towns are larger than life. They have an identity and culture all their own. Some say they are on a completely different playing field. The funny thing is that Glenwood Springs is being influenced by them every day. I hear the comment that we will never be like Aspen or Vail. In some respects that is true – we are not strictly a “resort” town. But we can’t help but be influenced by them. The atmosphere or “air” driving our resort friends is a concentrated tank of the world’s pop culture and youthful diversity. Glenwood Springs’ citizens secretly sneak off to Aspen or Vail to ski, shop and enjoy what they are offering. We can and should be offering more for our citizens, neighbors and tourists to enjoy. I can’t help but appreciate the cool stuff that they have going on: exclusive boutique shopping, artwork open to the public, festivals. I realize we have all of that, but let’s step it up a notch. If I knew that there was something to do here on a Friday or Saturday night, I wouldn’t sneak off to Aspen, Vail or Denver for my pop culture fix. We should and can be trendsetters.A demographic that we can learn a great deal from is Generation X and the Echo Boom. “Through sheer numbers, they’re beginning to change society,” says Jane Buckingham, president of The Intelligence Group, a New York and Los Angeles-based market research firm focusing on America’s youth. “We’ve seen a shift from wanting ‘things’ to wanting ‘experiences.'” To quote a survey from The Cassandra Report, a trend-forecasting product from The Intelligence Group, “When asked if they had an extra $500 to spend, 75 percent of trendsetters and 55 percent of mainstream respondents said they would rather spend it on an experience than a product.”The Glenwood Chamber, through a new committee called the Young Professionals of the Roaring Fork Valley, is working on a few projects for 2007 that reflect what trendsetters and the mainstream are demanding. In addition to our already popular attractions, outdoor cinema at Two Rivers Park and early evening classic rock concerts on Cooper Avenue in the fall will be added to the docket. In 2008 we hope to get stone and metal sculpture art on Grand Avenue and a spring concert series that will attract that Y Generation that is now traveling to Aspen and Vail.It will be good for our community to say that we, too, have our finger on the pulse of the here and now. We just need to, as they say, “git ‘er done”!Krista Kaufman is vice president of Special Events and Programs for the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association and founder of the Young Professionals of the Roaring Fork Valley. To join this group, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 945-6589.
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