It’s time to squeeze into those leather pants, apply the eyeliner, tease the hair and tune up your air guitar: Day 1 of Durango’s 2020 rock ’n’ roll-themed Snowdown starts today.
The five-day celebration, one of Durango’s biggest and silliest, turns friends into competitors, bars into racetracks and Main Avenue into a winter playground from Wednesday through Sunday. This year, Snowdown introduced 26 new events, bringing the number of events to 162.
“It’s always about promoting fun, commerce and tourism, in that order,” said Julie Oskard, Snowdown public information rockstar. “It’s known as the original cabin fever reliever. We encourage people to get out of the house in the middle of winter, engage in the community and have some fun.”
1. Prepare your liver … and costume“Season your liver,” said Marcos Wisner, owner of Ernie’s and 11th Street Station.
Durangoans might find Wisner’s advice helpful at events like the sexy car wash and quaffing, a sport that involves sliding beers then chugging them, at 11th Street Station. Other crowd favorites returning this year include the Snowdown Follies, lip-synching competition, pool tournament, oyster sliding competition and more. And of course, the marquee event is Friday’s Light Parade on Main Avenue.
But the best way to celebrate Snowdown is to dress for the theme.
“Start getting your costume ready,” said Rainy Markham, a bartender at The Irish Embassy. “There’s always costume competitions ... and it’s just more fun if you’re dressed up.”
2. Celebrate Snowdown without alcohol?“Snowdown is often notorious for being this crazy, wild drunken party,” Oskard said. “In reality since its inception in 1979, it was intended to be all-inclusive and offer something for everyone.”
Many of the new events are family-friendly or non-alcohol related. Some options include the teen follies, Rock Stop and Roll concert and costume contest, and the Rockin’ Family Dance Party. Adults can bar-hop while enjoying mocktails, non-alcoholic cocktails, during the Mock and Roll pub crawl.
Look for the Celebrating Health Communities “Healthy Event Seal of Approval” on Snowdown brochures to find affordable, alcohol-free and family-friendly events.
3. A giant visitor will be at the paradeReaching a height of 7 feet, full of fuzz and a mix between a goat and a yeti, Wilder the Great Outdoors Colorado spokes-creature will attend this year’s Light Parade.
As part of the Generation Wild marketing campaign, Wilder encourages kids to spend more time playing outdoors. Durangoans might recognize some of the landscapes in Wilder’s video, filmed in the Durango area.
4. Don’t want to fight parade traffic?Snowdown is offering free shuttles to help people get to and from the parade, which starts around 6 p.m. Friday on Main Avenue in downtown Durango.
Snowdown attendees can take a new free shuttle from two Three Springs locations, the former Digs Restaurant and Mercy Regional Medical Center, to the Durango Transit Center. The shuttle service will also connect the La Plata County Fairgrounds to the Durango Transit Center.
The park-and-ride shuttles will run from 3 to 9 p.m. The fairgrounds shuttle runs every 20 minutes; the Three Springs shuttle, every 45 minutes. Free city of Durango buses will also run all day Friday.
5. Snowdown a shot in the arm for commerce? “As a business owner, it’s something that really carries us through this slow period,” Wisner said. “Snowdown’s a huge, huge boost.”
This year, Snowdown partnered with the Fort Lewis College School of Business to conduct an economic impact survey during and after the week’s events.
“Snowdown’s economic impact on our local economy is a frequently asked-about topic that is often difficult to answer with hard data,” said Tim Walsworth, executive director of the Durango Business Improvement District and Snowdown board member, in a news release. “This survey will be a huge benefit to the future of Snowdown and downtown Durango.”