Canned v. Homegrown Events

So-called “canned events” like last year’s half marathon (organized by San Diego Half Marathon) have proven to be relatively easy, cost-effective ways to bring visitors to town and to animate slow weekends. But do they provide the lasting economic impact and vitality of well-supported home-grown events?

“Before we had ice climbing, if you came into Ouray in the middle of the winter, it was an incredibly dead place,” former Ouray, Colorado, mayor Bob Risch recently told Outside Magazine. “At 8 p.m. on Main Street, you were more likely to see deer than people.”

After the formal opening of the Ouray Ice Park in 2001, and the ensuing recognition of Ouray as “the sport’s American mecca,” the town has enjoyed significant economic revitalization, including the establishment of a number of new businesses and recreation infrastructure. The annual Ouray Ice Festival has grown into a major, world-class event, featuring thousands of participants and spectators, industry sponsors, inspiring speakers, the world’s top climbers, professional staff and hundreds of volunteers. The festival is the primary fundraiser for Park maintenance and operations.

What can we do to lend real municipal and DMO marketing support to successful homegrown events like the Mammoth Winter Biathlon and the June Lake Triathlon, as well as to other signature events — the June Lake Ice Climbing Festival? — that can help to establish and distinguish Mammoth Lakes as a year-round destination?

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