Summerset Festival canceled

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By Ramsey Scott

The massive rainfall last week forced the first ever cancellation of the Summerset Festival. 

Laura Knowlton, executive director of the Foothills Foundation, said the decision to cancel the festival was made due to the condition of Clement Park after the week's incessant rains and the forecast for more.

“We made a really, really tough decision to cancel the event. In 29 years, it’s never been canceled. It was a decision that had to be made, but it’s a no-win for everyone,” Knowlton said. “Because of the weather conditions over the last few days and the rain we’ve gotten, and the marginal forecast for more rain this weekend, the turf conditions, everything is totally saturated at Clement; it wasn’t a good equation for a successful event.”

Knowlton said the turf at Clement Park has been saturated by the rain, making it impossible for vendors to drive trucks onto the grass to set up for the event.

“To put a stage in place on the turf, it would have sunk 5 feet into the ground,” Knowlton said.

Coupled with the foot traffic the park was expected to see with the 30,000 estimated visitors at the three-day festival, Knowlton said the decision was unavoidable.

The festival is the biggest fund-raising event for the Foothills Foundation, which helps support local events and Foothills Park & Rec District efforts.

Knowlton said she was contacting the vendors about refunding the booth fees paid to the festival and didn’t know yet how much the cancellation would hurt the foundation's fund-raising for the year.

“It’s a considerable amount of our fund-raising. All of the years I’ve been doing Summerset, we had one year several years ago where our net was less than $10,000. And then another year our net was just under $50,000,” Knowlton said. “It’s a wide range. Any outdoor event can be at the mercy of the weather.”

While there was an initial discussion about rescheduling the event, Knowlton said, the idea was abandoned due to the logistics of rescheduling a festival of Summerset’s size in one weekend.

“(Rescheduling) was part of our initial brainstorming — could we reschedule for another weekend? But … food vendors often schedule events every weekend," Knowlton said.

"It would have probably been harder to pull off a rescheduled event than it took to organize this weekend’s event.” Knowlton said. “How many of those 200-plus vendors would come that weekend? My guess is not a lot.”

As a resident of South Jeffco, Knowlton said she was very disappointed to have to cancel the event.

“We went from 95-degree weather and gorgeous and beautiful, to rainy weather. It was a flip of a switch. I’m sure everybody is scratching their head and saying, 'Really?' ” Knowlton said. “It’s devastating to the community.”