Arise music festival producer to keep Pueblo property, explore options
When Luke Comer purchased the sprawling Cradle organic farm and ranch in Boone for $3 million, he planned to move the Arise art and music festival there after Larimer County commissioners denied him a permit to hold it on a property near Loveland.
But in May, Comer abruptly announced he was canceling the festival entirely after Pueblo County officials did the same — namely, denied him a permit to hold Arise at the Cradle.
Or maybe he isn’t canceling it entirely.
Comer insisted he’s “done working with Pueblo County” but noted that about a third of the Cradle, which sits on the eastern edge of the county, is in neighboring Crowley County. That includes “about 150 acres of irrigated grass fields and one pivot — as well as trees and access to the Arkansas,” he said.
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He is open to negotiating with Crowley County for permits to hold festivals in the part of the Cradle that’s in their county, Comer said. In fact, he’s already had conversations with Crowley County officials that have been “respectful, but casual,” he said.
“Needless to say, I should have put Arise there in the first place,” Comer said.
“In time, I plan on visiting with them — and seeing if we could produce in their county,” he said. “As a producer, I and my staff really stand to bring benefit to the area, not to mention a lot of fun, creativity and community.”
The 2022 Arise music festival was supposed to be held over Memorial Day weekend at the Cradle.
Pueblo County officials said in a statement that the reason they had not issued a permit for the event was because Arise had failed to ensure public safety.
“Acquiring a special event permit through Pueblo County requires sign-off by several different government entities to ensure public safety,” the statement says. “Unfortunately, the ARISE Festival was unsuccessful in doing so and has been unsuccessful in doing so in other counties.”
Officials in Larimer County, where Arise was held from 2012 to 2019, cited concerns about emergency vehicle access to the festival when they denied the organizers a permit, according to the Coloradoan.
Comer said he and his staff had plans in place for emergency vehicle access at the new venue in Pueblo County, but were denied a permit anyway..
“We had what we called the secondary road, drawn on our sitemap, which was dedicated for emergency vehicles — although realistically these vehicles, too, could have used our primary access most of the time,” he said.
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Comer still believes that the Cradle is an ideal location for festivals. It’s close to metropolitan areas, is surrounded by roads, isolated from neighbors, enjoys great weather, and has access to electricity and drinking water.
“It’s the best place in Colorado to produce camping festivals,” he said.
James Bartolo can be reached by email at JBartolo@gannett.com.