As you might recently have read, tickets to the Festival in the Park, the popular one-day assembly of wine lovers and wine makers during the annual Colorado Mountain Winefest presented by Alpine Bank, sold out July 23.

This year's 28th annual Winefest takes place Sept. 19–22, which means the $60 general admission tickets officially were gone a full two months prior to the event — the VIP tickets sold out Jan. 3.

However, don't let the lack of tickets stop you from hoping to attend the Festival in the Park on Sept. 21.

Every year, people buy tickets and then for various reasons decide not to use them. There still is a demand for those tickets, but it's not easy to connect sellers and buyers in a satisfactory manner.

As with many other popular events, the subculture of ticket scalping has come to Winefest.

Recently, this created a few mishaps, such as when unscrupulous would-be sellers (and less-than-careful, would-be buyers) arranged ticket drops but only one, and sometimes neither, party left happy.

"It is unfortunate," said Cassidee Shull, executive director of the Colorado Association of Viticulture & Enology (CAVE), the event organizer. "Last year was the first we had encountered ticket scalpers and we are experiencing it again this year. To combat the issue, we have partnered with a secure, third-party ticket provider for those who wish to return or purchase tickets to our sold out events."

I imagine you're familiar with third-party ticket brokers such as StubHub, TicketMaster and others. They handle ticket sales, resale, refunds and all sorts of things that only spell trouble for the uninitiated.

Plus, they help eliminate the many problems that can arise when buying a ticket from an unknown source.

"Colorado Mountain Winefest has grown in popularity and sells out quite early and there are people unfortunately trying to take advantage of that," Shull said.

CAVE has partnered with Lyte (Lyte.com), founded in 2013 and headquartered in San Francisco. The technology-based company handles ticket sales, resales, returns and exchanges for such events as Burning Man, Newport Folk Festival, Telluride Jazz Fest, Telluride Blues and Brews and many others.

"We hope that this will alleviate the frustration for all parties," said Shull, now in her seventh year at the helm of CAVE.

"Winefest is selling out earlier and earlier each year, which is incredibly exciting," she said.

No wonder everyone loves the Festival in the Park. This year, for example, there will be 64 wineries along with educational seminars and chef demonstrations, ice carving, live music, food vendors and much more.

Yes, there will be grape stomping (loud applause here).

"We take pride in focusing on quality over quantity. We want Mountain Winefest to be a positive and satisfying experience for all of our guests," Shull said. "By limiting the number of event attendees, we are able to ensure a high quality experience for all festival attendees, volunteers, and participating wineries." As of last week, there still were tickets available for other Winefest-related events, such as the Grand Mesa Wine Country Bus Tour, the Town & Country Bus Tour, the Intro to Grape Growing Seminar, Sip & Stretch and more. Information is available at ColoradoWinefest.com.

The 29th annual Colorado Mountain Winefest will be Sept. 17–20, 2020, and information will be sent via email shortly after this year's event finishes. Tickets go on sale Cyber Monday following Thanksgiving.

Winefest's growth has brought new people and new visions to the Grand Valley, not unexpected when 6,600 people, 72-percent of which come from outside Colorado, including 46 states and six countries, flood into Palisade and the surrounding area for a fun-filled, four-day weekend.

"It's been remarkable to see the change over the last seven years," said Shull, whose entire staff consists of only her and two others - Melinda Tredway and Sandie Cooper, along with the hundreds Winefest volunteers.

"The growth of the Festival has changed how we market and plan our events," Shull said. "We look at ourselves as stewards of the Grand Valley and we want our guests to get the best experience of the valley — and Colorado wine as a whole — while here.

"It's been exciting," she said, thoughtfully. "Challenging, but exciting."

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