Tourism board selects Beckwith for fall event
By Kevin Huelsmann, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Date: February 23, 2013
Members of the Jackson Hole Travel and Tourism board Thursday selected Christian Beckwith to head up a new event meant to bolster tourist activity in October.
Beckwith was one of three finalists for the contract position. Board members said Beckwith had more vision for the still-developing event than the other candidates, Sue Muncaster and Steve Duerr, and had more experience developing events from the ground up.
“He’s everything that you would hope for in one person,” board member Ponteir Sackrey said.
Beckwith is the founder and editor-in-chief of Outerlocal, a social media website for adventure athletes. He is the former editor of the American Alpine Journal, was the founding editor of Alpinist Magazine, and founded the Alpinist Film Festival and the Mountain Yodel. He also coordinated the Teton Boulder Project.
Tax board members have been discussing a major fall event for more than a year. The event is still in an “early design concept phase.”
Members have said they want an annual festival to focus on conservation, to extend the tourist season and bolster the valley economy in a historically slow time of year.
During a meeting Thursday, board member Chip Carey raised questions about the contract, saying it could push board members too far into event management, which isn’t their focus.
“We’re not an operataional board,” Carey said, “and now we’re hiring someone with a contract, and we’ll be responsible for it.”
Others said the contract is similar to the agreement with the Denver marketing firm Cactus, which oversees a marketing program to drive tourists to Jackson.
“We’ll trust this contractor the same way we trust Cactus to execute our direction,” member Candra Day said.
The tourism board will review vouchers from Beckwith, just as they do with Cactus, Day said.
Board members budgeted $50,000 for the coordinator’s position. County attorneys are expected to finalize the details of a contract with Beckwith in coming weeks. The full board will vote on it once it’s complete.