Jobs in Pueblo, revenue lost as music festival cancelled, organizer says

The three-day Arise arts and music festival, which was scheduled to be held in Boone over Memorial Day weekend, was canceled on short notice after Pueblo County officials denied organizers permission to organize the event.

“Arise is devastated and heartbroken two weeks before production – and has to end around a thousand jobs and services, including many artists,” event producer Luke Comer said in a press release published on the site. the festival’s website.

Canceling the festival also meant a loss of about $1 million for the Pueblo area, he said.

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Bob Sapena, a retiree who lives in Paonia, about 240 miles west of Pueblo, had to drive five hours to Boone to attend the festival with his wife when they learned it had been canceled.

“Not only was the concert going to pump a lot of money into the local community, it was also going to be a shining star on Pueblo’s public persona,” Sapena said in an email to the Chieftain on Saturday.

“All the local people who were hired to help out at the gig will now miss that salary,” he said. “Grocery stores, restaurants and service industries will not receive this influx of cash.”

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Arise was held from 2012 to 2019 at Sunrise Ranch in Larimer County, Colorado, but its application for a permit to return there in 2020 was denied, with county commissioners citing concerns for public safety and the response time of emergency services, depending on Colorado.

The festival was scheduled to be held May 27-30 at an organic farm and ranch known as The Cradle in Pueblo County. Comer said he owned the property and “had the support of our neighbors” to organize the event, which would have featured bluegrass, electronic, funk, jam band, reggae and rock music, as well as activities such as art, theater and yoga.

This year’s festival would have been the first held in the new location.

Comer submitted a traffic impact study to the Colorado Department of Transportation and safety information to the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office, but neither agency approved the permit application, he said. he stated in a statement published on the Arise website.

“I believe the sheriff blocked the festival, not for public safety reasons, but for cultural bias, and others supported him,” he said, without going into details. “I feel like I have been deprived of my constitutional rights related to property values ​​(since I own the property) and freedom of assembly.”

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Neither the sheriff’s office nor the CDOT gave Comer reason not to approve his permit application, which had already been approved by multiple state and county agencies, he said.

“With this decision, Arise could not be legally produced under any circumstances. And we had no realistic option but to permanently close the company,” Comer said.

Pueblo County Planning and Development was contacted for comment, but did not respond by the Chieftain’s deadline.

Pueblo Chieftain reporter James Bartolo can be reached by email at [email protected]

Gerald R. Schneider