Sunday Profile: Pat Miller has a lot on tap as he works to build Glenwood Springs’ special events culture
The whiteboard in Patrick Miller’s office has a long list and he’s busy checking it at least twice if not three times a day to make sure everything is on track for Glenwood Springs’ big New Year’s Eve celebration.
Set-up crews scheduled – check.
Final confirmations with the band, fireworks and other entertainment – check.
Porta-potty delivery set – check.
Streets crews at the ready to close down Seventh Street the day of the party – check.
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There’s a lot to get done to pull off a big community celebration. But it’s all in the capable hands of Miller and his team of city workers.
“I want to be able to give everyone involved — from the bands, right up to people cleaning up afterward — as much information as possible so that they know going into the event what they’re supposed to be doing and the proper way to do it,” Miller said.
Miller wears the dual hats of events and marketing coordinator, as well as recreation manager for the city of Glenwood Springs.
In addition to the detailed itinerary on his office wall, he has three notebooks filled with event planning information.
“It’s a lot to take on, but the team here makes it a lot easier,” Miller said. “I couldn’t do it without them.”
Go West, young man
Miller, who’s 29, became Glenwood’s first events and marketing coordinator in the spring of 2018 when city officials decided to bring more events coordination in house instead of seeking an outside contractor.
Earlier this year, he added the title of recreation manager; overseeing city athletic leagues, arts and community programming.
Originally from upstate New York, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in sports management with a minor in business from SUNY-Fredonia, Miller left the Adirondacks for the Rocky Mountains of Colorado to take an internship at Beaver Creek Resort.
He transitioned from the internship to sponsorships coordinator to event manager in Beaver Creek Village, where he worked for about five years.
“My background was mostly in sports management, but I quickly fell in love with the world of events planning,” Miller said.
Glenwood Springs Parks and Recreation Director Brian Smith tapped him for the newly created position here, as the city looked to expand its event offerings.
Since then, under Miller’s direction, the city’s Fourth of July celebration has grown to become one of the Roaring Fork Valley’s go-to summer holiday attractions.
Regular events have begun populating the new public space along Seventh Street under the Grand Avenue Bridge. And, the city had what it hopes will be an annual Oktoberfest celebration in conjunction with the Glenwood Springs Brew Garden along the revamped Sixth Street corridor.
That inaugural event alone drew about 1,100 people.
“Pat has been able to put together a comprehensive calendar of events, and has been really good at working with other community event organizers to try to maximize what we can offer,” Smith said.
Smith notes that Glenwood Springs has a goal that, for every dollar invested in special events the city will see a $4 return into the local economy.
“While a lot of these events are sponsored by the community and we don’t charge for people to attend, the value and economic growth you see bring a lot of value to the city,” Smith said. “Pat has a great vision for events and how to market them, and really just does it all.”
Miller said he feels lucky to have joined the city at a time when several new public spaces were being created that could host a variety of events.
From the space under the new Grand Avenue bridge, to the pedestrian-friendly “festival street” improvements along Seventh, to the diamond-in-the-rough across the river on Sixth Street, the possibilities are endless, he said.
“Glenwood has done an amazing job of creating those spaces, and renovating some of the existing spaces like Two Rivers Park and looking ahead to Sayre Park and the North Landing,” Miller said. “I kind of came in with a different eye looking at all these spaces that are now beautified and able to be hosting events.”
His experience at Beaver Creek gave him the freedom to create events from the ground up, including working within a budget, staffing, security, permitting and other fine details.
Established events, such as the Beaver Creek Blues, Brews and BBQ and Oktoberfest, draw upward of 15,000 people over the course of a couple of days. Numerous events are also planned around the Alpine Ski Championships every year.
That provided a strong foundation for his work in Glenwood Springs.
“Over the last year-and-a-half, we’ve made lots of changes for the positive … and I’ve been very lucky to be part of that change,” Miller said. “I’m originally from a small town in upstate New York, so this was kind of a perfect transition from the hustle-bustle of a five-star resort to this community.”
It’s also a perfect fit for his avid outdoors lifestyle, as he enjoys fly fishing, snowboarding, backpacking and all that western Colorado has to offer.
Last year, his girlfriend, Sierra Verburg, also joined him in Glenwood Springs. She now works for Colorado Mountain College in the academic recruiting office.
“We’re really been loving just getting to know everyone here in the community, and finding out what people like and want in the way of events,” Miller said.
When he’s not coordinating a Glenwood Springs community event, he and Verburg are often checking out some of the events other area communities have to offer, gleaning ideas that could be adapted for Glenwood.
It’s more than just throwing some ideas up on the wall and seeing what sticks, he said.
“We had a good idea of what the community wanted, and what they wanted to see when this position was created,” Miller said.
A big focus in 2020 will be to expand Glenwood’s art offerings. One of Miller’s jobs is to oversee the newly renovated Glenwood Arts Center space on East Sixth Street, and to expand programming in that facility.
Another area of focus will be to come up with events to fill out the spring and fall shoulder seasons, he said.
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