Another year, another successful Telluride Bluegrass Festival. The 46th installment of the area’s largest musical event wrapped up Sunday after four days of camping, Town Park performances and general good times. Local and festival officials met Tuesday morning for the annual debriefing at Telluride’s Community Room. By all accounts, this year’s festival went “smoothly,” a word repeated by several people regarding operations.
The box office numbers, aka the number of people in Town Park each day, were 10,504 for Thursday, 11,295 for Friday, 11,469 for Saturday and 11,493 for Sunday. The festival’s town-approved capacity is 11,500. Bluegrass director Craig Ferguson explained each day was “guested out,” meaning it was essentially sold out.
Camping numbers were also high, according to officials, as there were 1,162 campers in Town Park, 392 at Warner Field, 1,026 at Lawson Hill and 705 at the Mary E. Ilium campground.
Fewer people drove into town this year, with the highest traffic count being Friday’s 2,058. Mountain Village Police Chief Chris Broady explained the gondola parking garage filled up quickly, especially during Wednesday night’s FirstGrass show in Sunset Plaza.
“It was just a different year,” he said.
Ferguson also noticed Mountain Village was busier before the show as if people were “ready to make an afternoon of it.”
Even with so many people in the area, there wasn’t an increase in incidents.
John Cohn, the festival’s head of security, explained it was a “calm crowd” that was “very orderly.”
“Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was the music,” he said, adding there weren’t many “fence jumpers” or people trying to sneak in without a ticket.
Telluride Chief Marshal Jim Kolar said his department made four arrests throughout the weekend; two for possession of a controlled substance, one for DUI and one for a protection order violation. There were also fewer trespassing violations and zero detox holds, he added. The marshal’s department wrote 98 parking tickets, including 36 related to festival parking, and towed two vehicles, which was significantly less than in years past, Kolar said.
“All in all, I think it was a great festival weekend,” he said. “You guys always put on a good show.”
In Mountain Village, there was one arrest, according to Broady.
“She really worked hard to get herself arrested,” he said. “ … She talked her way into jail basically.”
Visitors were also “very receptive” to the recently initiated pedestrian-only dismount zone in the core, he added.
“Overall, it was a great weekend,” Broady said.
San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters didn’t attend the debriefing, but sent Kolar a text message that said everything went “exceptionally well” on his end.
As for medical emergencies at the festival, Chief Paramedic Emil Sante said the department received 11 911 calls and transported one person from Town Park via ambulance. He added there were two detox watches at the San Miguel County Jail, but other than that it was an incident-free weekend.
Paul Ruud, Telluride’s public works director, said the wastewater treatment plant was “very close to being at capacity,” with a record high of 1.4-1.5 million gallons coming into the facility over the weekend at one point. He explained snowmelt and ensuing runoff water most likely accounted for approximately 25 percent of that via “infiltration and inflow,” or ground water seeping into pipes.
“Everything went really smooth,” Planet Bluegrass Vice President Steve Szymanski said. “ … I think Lake Street Dive was the largest crowd I saw.”
He explained the sound problems that Thursday night headliner Jim James was experiencing were due to the band’s analog-to-digital converter, which the sound team solved within the two first songs.
Saturday’s weather was also a concern to organizers. Kolar explained he was in touch with the Grand Junction National Weather Service office in tracking any developing storm cells, but the worst of the weather was south of the area.
Kudos were in abundance during the debriefing. Ferguson noted that Shauna Nashak, the festival’s box office manager who has worked with Planet Bluegrass for 18 years, isn’t returning next year. She received a round of applause.
“She’s been awesome. I want to thank her publicly,” Ferguson said.
It truly has been a pleasure to produce this festival with Craig and everyone in this room,” Nashak said.
Monday’s load out of the Town Park campground load out went off without a hitch, said Stephanie Jaquet, Telluride Parks & Recreation director.