Jason Isbell

Jason Isbell headlined Sunday night of this year’s Ride Festival. (Photo by Suzanne Cheavens/Telluride Daily Planet)

This year’s Ride Festival crowd liked to party. Detective Christine Sandoval of the Telluride Marshal’s Department explained there were 13 total arrests during this year’s festival, including seven drug-related arrests. She added there were two arrests during last year’s festival.

“We experienced a higher number of arrests this year than we have in the past during previous festivals. A lot of them involved possession and possession to sell,” she said.

Drugs seized by authorities included heroin, synthetic fentanyl, cocaine, MDMA, LSD, ketamine, magic mushrooms, methamphetamine and prescription-type sedatives, Sandoval explained during a festival debriefing Tuesday morning at the Telluride Community Room.

Officers also found baggies of cocaine and methamphetamine at the post office over the weekend.

“The post office seemed to be the hub,” she said.

Sandoval, who shared information on behalf of Chief Marshal Jim Kolar, said on-duty officers dealt with festivalgoers in a professional manner.

“Chief wanted to add that it is his opinion that the number of arrests would have doubled had it not been for the extreme patience exhibited by the TMO personnel and the reserve officers,” she said. “They were hustling. They were hustling all weekend long.”

John Cohn, the festival’s head of security, added his staff experienced similar interactions, even though security wasn’t actively searching for illegal substances.

“They convinced themselves to get in trouble,” he said.

Sandoval added, “Literally, like drugs were spilling out of their pockets. They would go to pull out their ID and pull out their drugs at the same time. … These were a result of other contacts.”

Festival organizer Todd Creel noted that Widespread Panic, the Friday and Saturday night headliner, has a fanbase that wants to have a good time.

“Each band brings their own crowd. The things that you guys have to deal with are very much band-related. This particular band brings a crowd that likes to party, as you witnessed,” he said. “Last year, we had a much smaller crowd, which I’m sure is part of the reason that we had less incidents. I felt like for 6,000 people in the park, my experience was it was really positive. There’s always going to be a few bad apples, but overall the crowd was amazing.”  

The unofficial attendance numbers were 6,021 for Friday night, 6,256 on Saturday and 5,559 on Sunday. Last year, the average daily attendance was approximately 4,700 for Saturday and Sunday. The Friday night show was a new addition this year, and organizers believe the ingress could have been managed better, especially since there was only one entrance open.

“The Friday night concert caught everyone a little off guard with everybody showing up at once,” said Stephanie Jaquet, Telluride Parks & Recreation director.

With plans to hold a Friday night show in the future, officials suggested opening a second entrance at Town Park, similar to what was done during previous Pretty Lights concerts.

Other than the ticket line, there was an alcohol-checking backlog, Cohn explained, as approximately 144 cans or bottles of alcohol were confiscated throughout the weekend.

On Friday night, Widespread Panic played 16 minutes past the pre-approved curfew of 10 p.m. The town issued a $1,600 fine — $100 per minute — as a result. Creel explained it was an honest mistake, as festival staff thought the Friday night curfew was 10:30 p.m.

“We take the curfew very, very seriously. On Saturday night, (Widespread Panic) would have liked to play longer, but I said, ‘No, we don’t do that,’” he said. “ … We understand the importance of the curfew. … It was an error and it’s not something we expect to ever happen again.”

He added that he plans to end the sets 15 minutes before curfew moving forward.