Residents reserved in opinions on two country music events

Bobby Willis is making some headway with residents on the west end of the Grand Valley, but plenty of concerns remain about his proposed country music festival, Bobby’s Birthday Bash, residents said Friday in Loma.

“I think he’s on the right track,” said Janice Collins, a member of the volunteer Loma Community Council.

Willis, though, needs to take care not to damage the 20-year-old institution of Country Jam USA, Grand Junction entrepreneur Vickie Thurlow said.

“I don’t want to see that messed up,” Thurlow said.

Collins and Thurlow attended a coffee gathering Friday morning at the Strayhorn Grill, 1369 12 1/2 Road.

Mesa County Commissioners Craig Meis and Steve Acquafresca attended the coffee, but they were unable to discuss Willis’s proposed event, Acquafresca said.

That’s because Bobby’s Birthday Bash faces hearings April 14 before the county’s planning commission and April 24 before the County Commission.

The county commissioners preside over hearings in a quasijudicial capacity and can’t allow themselves to be lobbied or engage in communications with only one of the parties, Acquafresca said.

“I have to leave,” he said at one point as the subject of the music festival arose within earshot.

Worries about the relationship between Bobby’s Birthday Bash and Country Jam extend beyond Mack and Loma, the communities most directly affected by the dueling country music extravaganzas, Thurlow said.

“Country Jam has a great impact on our community in a good way,” Thurlow said, noting its support of other community organizations. “We really don’t know anything about Bobby.”

Collins said she couldn’t take any position on the birthday bash, but Willis seemed to be offering welcome assurances.

Willis acknowledged that he sought to buy Country Jam and told people he wanted to make it a more family-friendly event, Collins said.

It helped for residents to understand that the reason for the simultaneous bookings of his bash and Country Jam was Willis intent to present his performers at Country Jam under his ownership, Collins said.

He also allayed fears when he said the bash would be conducted on a different weekend than Country Jam in coming years, Collins said.

“He’s answered a lot of questions,” Collins said.


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