The Thursday night Bayfield Block Parties started four years ago as a way to promote Bayfield businesses and bring a vibrant event to downtown. The block parties are such a hit that they continue to expand each year.
“We were asked so many times to have an extra one,” said Bayfield Chamber of Commerce Board President Brenna Morlan, so they listened to requests and added a fourth date in August this year. The dates of the Block Parties this year are May 16, June 20, July 18 and Aug. 15 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the center of Mill Street.
The vendor list has not been solidified yet, but Morlan said there will be a broad variety of businesses, including jewelry makers, info booths, photographer and artist booths, body products and more. There is a $25 sales tax license fee for vendors who are selling products, but informational spaces are free.
“It’s not specific to Bayfield – If someone else (from other areas) wanted to branch off, we wouldn’t be opposed to that,” Morlan said.
Food vendors include Grub Hub at the Goat, which serves subs, pizzas and bar-style snacks, and Bounty for the Belly food truck, serving gourmet sandwiches and sides.
All the proceeds from the beer and wine tent (drink tickets are $5 each) benefit a different nonprofit of the month, including The Chamber of Commerce, Be Frank Foundation music organization, Pine River Shares community leadership project, and Friends of the Library, which supports Pine River Library.
There is also a section dedicated to the Bayfield Farmers Market, which almost came to an end this year, Morlan said.
She said it was a challenge to find enough local vendors to sign up because of the potential to make more money at larger markets, such as the Durango Farmers Market. But Jackie Morlan, no relation to Brenna, was able to keep it running. Jackie, who is a volunteer, also played a large part in getting the block parties off the ground, which are a group effort between volunteers, The town of Bayfield and The Chamber of Commerce.
Jackie was recently awarded the Vicki Mattox Downtowner of the Year award by Downtown Colorado Inc., a statewide nonprofit that helps develop strategies to revitalize downtown communities. The town worked with Downtown Colorado Inc. on a Bayfield community assessment in 2015.
In other efforts to boost downtown Bayfield, Jackie converted her Mill Street property into a vacation rental and assisted in the town’s branding development.
It is collaborative efforts like this that make the Block Parties possible. The town provides the tables and chairs and sets up and tears down the event. Mercy Family Medicine contributed to the large stage used in the block parties last year, Nail Street Salon pays the electric bill for the bands, and other community members pitch in, too.
Brenna said the large stage has made the Block Parties more expensive, but it’s worth it.
“This will be the second year of having a big stage,” Brenna said. “I can’t tell you how much more professional it looked comparatively than before.”
The 2019 bands include Jelly Belly Boogie Band in May, Midnight Backhand in June, Alchemy Jack in July and Carbon Red in August.
“I was very careful to get total Bayfield (bands) because I wanted to showcase Bayfield talent,” said town board member and Billy Goat Saloon owner Ashleigh Tarkington. The bands play a mix of covers, from classic to current.
“The best thing about the Block Party is it’s so family-oriented. It’s not a party-party atmosphere,” Brenna said. “You can go and hang out with your friends and your kids can be there. It’s a good wholesome event. ... Our community is so extremely family-oriented.”
To learn more about the Bayfield Block Parties or to apply for a booth space, visit colorado.gov/pacific/townofbayfield/block-parties.