For over 30 years, Music in the Mountains has entertained Durango residents and tourists alike with a summer music festival featuring musicians from all over the world.
A 2016 study conducted by RRC Associates, a market research firm specializing in tourism, found that the classical music festival also provides an important boost to the local economy.
Music in the Mountains returns July 9-30 with orchestras at various venues in and around Durango. Purgatory Resort will house the main festival tent.
The event contributes to La Plata County and Durango economically and culturally in a variety ways, said Angie Beach, executive director of Music in the Mountains.
“Arts and culture as a segment of the economy can be a significant economic driver for any community and it certainly is in Durango. It’s what separates one community from another and makes them unique. For example, there are lots of mountain towns with outdoor recreation opportunities, but few of our size that boast what we do in arts and culture options,” Beach said.
RRC Associates’ study shows the three-week festival had a direct economic impact of $2.3 million dollars in La Plata County in 2016. Study results were based on a sample size of 355 attendees, 40 festival musicians, 31 conservatory students and 13 conservatory faculty.
About 6,400 people took part in Music in the Mountains last summer with 73 percent of audience members attending from Colorado, 10 percent from New Mexico and 7 percent from Texas.
Tickets range in price from $5 to $75 and must be purchased separately because there is no all-inclusive pass.
According to the study, each concertgoer generated an average of $247 for La Plata County, and the festival attracts a mostly older, affluent crowd.
Eighty percent of attendees were over 55 years old with the majority having an annual household income of over $100,000.
Between audience members, musicians and faculty, about $195,000 was spent at Purgatory on lodging, dining, shopping and recreational activities during the 2016 festival.
Of the overnight visitors paying for lodging, 44 percent stayed at hotels in Durango and 17 percent stayed at Purgatory. The average nightly rate for lodging was about $138, according to the report.
“Purgatory Resort is a proud partner of Music in the Mountains, and is honored to be the host venue for such an exceptional music festival. ... Purgatory looks forward to its continued partnership with Music in the Mountains for years to come,” said Kim Oyler, a spokeswoman for the resort.
The Leland House and Rochester Hotel is another longtime lodging partner with Music in the Mountains, said owner Kirk Komick.
“We have worked with Music in the Mountains for many years and we love to support the arts. We know that the festival brings in a great clientele and market from the Texas area. ... Our guests are always blown away by the cultural and nonprofit events in our town,” Komick said.
Music in the Mountains also has a high patron retention rate with 81 percent of overnight visitors returning for multiple seasons.
Even with a study, it can be hard to pinpoint the exact economic take for the city, but the event undoubtedly attracts visitors who spend money locally.
“I don’t have specific numbers for this event but being that it is a month long and draws in musicians from all over the world and brings out the locals, it has an impact on our town. How much of that is downtown is hard to say ... but Music in the Mountains holds events all over town so it certainly helps Durango,” said Tim Walsworth, executive director of the Durango Business Improvement District.