Palisade festival promoter seeks more funding from town

The Palisade Bluegrass and Roots Festival in Riverbend Park continues to feature top acts, for a price.

What’s one thing the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Junior Brown, Della Mae, Elephant Revival, Keller Williams and The Infamous Stringdusters have in common?

All have played at the Palisade Bluegrass and Roots Music Festival at some point in its nine-year run.

To continue to entice this caliber of top acts and to make upgrades to the festival, the festival’s promoter is asking the town of Palisade to pony up more cash for the 2018 festival.

Josh Behrman, owner of Aspen-based Mountain Groove Productions, explained the ratcheting effect to trustees during their Tuesday night meeting.

Palisade trustees said they wanted an encore of the annual three-day festival, but first they needed to ensure an increased request of $34,000 — for a total of $121,500 — was in harmony with the town’s budget.

Palisade Mayor Roger Granat said he wanted to have some “real assurances” that the increased budget would mean fans of bluegrass would come to town to see top-notch talent.

Trustees did not vote Tuesday night to amend the contract with Mountain Groove Productions, but they said they would update Behrman as soon as possible.

In its first three years, the festival lost roughly $60,000, Palisade Town Administrator Rich Sales said after the meeting. Since then, the event has produced at least some revenue, but the event is not intended solely to be a money-maker. Revenue is generated back into the festival, he said.

Mountain Groove’s ask is nearly twice the annual contract amount Palisade paid the company when it started producing the event in 2010.

Palisade paid $65,000 a year for three years from 2009 to 2011.

Costs have increased over the years, to $87,500 a year to produce the 2016 festival and this summer’s event.

Behrman said most of the cost increase requests will be used to pay higher-quality bands the better rates they’re seeking. For example The Infamous Stringdusters ask $40,000 to play events, but Behrman said he tries to offset those costs by paying a lower rate to play Palisade’s venue, and paying the band double for an opportunity to play elsewhere so they can recoup funds.

Behrman said the extra dollars will help offer a good lineup to celebrate the festival’s 10th anniversary next summer. Some of the additional money will go toward improving sound and catering for bands and VIP ticket holders.

The festival attracted 3,426 attendees this summer.

A sharp increase in “blind faith” tickets sold this summer, or those tickets people purchased before they knew the lineup, means attendees trust they’ll enjoy the festival, said Bridgett Gutierrez of Cranium 360, which produces marketing for the festival.

“That means people are liking the festival and want to come back,” she said, during a separate presentation to the board.


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