If you go
What: Dead & Company, featuring Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bob Kreutzmann, plus John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge and Jeff Chimenti
When: 6:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Where: Folsom Field, University of Colorado, Boulder
Cost: $59.95 to $149.95
More info: axs.com
Laying their heads by the riverside or at some other bucolic bivouac has proven not to be the way most Dead & Company fans roll, so the band's return to Boulder this weekend likely will impact local merchants more than it does park rangers or the law enforcement community.
In advance of the first shows at the University of Colorado's Folsom Field by the remnants of the Grateful Dead in 2016, coming as they did just before the Fourth of July, many officials were concerned about an influx of so-called "travelers," itinerant tie-dyed campers that might pour into foothill forests to put down a bedroll — stoking concerns about everything from wildfire danger to rampant illegal drug use.
But as the band has aged, so have its most fervent fans. With a third round of Dead & Company concerts looming this weekend, they can likely be found more easily at the posh St. Julien Hotel & Spa in downtown Boulder than at Nederland's West Magnolia campground.
"We have not seen the impacts that we anticipated over the last two seasons related to the concerts. Our NICHE group met yesterday and the sentiment was that we are not seeing an increased impact around the upcoming concerts," said Boulder County Undersheriff Tommy Sloan, referring to the Nederland Interagency Council on Homeless Encampments.
"I wouldn't say there is no impact, but it has been minimal."
Shannon Aulabaugh, spokeswoman for the Boulder Police Department, said the city — where camping on open space is illegal — has not seen any "major issues" of that sort since the concerts have been staged here.
Instead, since Dead & Company broke a 15-year hiatus for rock concerts at Folsom Field two years ago, the most noticeable effect has been to pump up the volume of well-monied weekend warriors whose preferred place to crash after the final chord fades might run several hundred dollars a night.
"I think it is a tremendous impact on our community," said Cathy Rothweiler, a board member for the Boulder Convention and Visitors Bureau, also vice president of the Boulder Hotel and Motel Association.
"I think they are a little older and they have possibly more discretionary income. I suspect they dine out in our restaurants, and go to our retail shops. I think it's wonderful for our community, and for our the hotel industry. I'd love to see CU do more of those."
Hotels filled quickly
Steven Wallace, past president of the Boulder Hotel and Motel Association, and general manager of the Best Western Plus Boulder Inn, said the Dead & Company visitation provides a spike to local lodgings.
But he pointed out that, in a market where conferences are a critical component of the business menu, it's not all upside.
"We filled up immediately, back when it was announced. I believe all hotels filled up immediately," Wallace said. "It causes a spike, and often times our rates have to be higher to account for the fact that we will not sell the rooms for the days right after.
"Financially, it can be an even weekend" because of the vacancies caused when the circus leaves town the morning after, he said.
Bob Trotter, general manager at the St. Julien, said "The St. Julien is booked up almost totally with Dead & Company guests, and we have special-event rates in place and so that's good for us."
Trotter said the Dead-rate bookings, requiring a minimum two-night stay, are priced above the hotel's standard rates, which he would not discuss. But — as an example — as of Wednesday a two-night stay there on the second weekend of November could be had via Expedia for a tidy $387 per night.
"Fans staying at the St. Julien are here just to enjoy the music and have a great time," Trotter said. "Everyone is in a good mood, and we're just looking forward to a great weekend."
Trotter added: "My finance director is an old Deadhead," noting that a number of St. Julien staff would be on hand at Folsom Field for the shows.
The effect reaches down the U.S. 36 corridor, according to Gerry McFarland director of sales and marketing at The Omni Interlocken Resort in Broomfield.
"We always keep our eyes on what's happening when it comes to entertainment acts such as Dead & Company," McFarland said. "They have meant a lot for the market. As soon as it was announced, there was a bump in reservations. And we've seen continued strength as the ticket sales continue to go."
It might stand to reason that marijuana dispensaries would see a brief boomlet with Deadheads old and young flocking into town. And not surprisingly, the concert dates are circled at Boulder's Terrapin Care Station; "Terrapin Station" was the name of a Grateful Dead studio album released in 1977.
"That's very much the case," said Kobi Waldfogel, marketing manager for Terrapin Care Station. "We are a company of music lovers. So we obviously know when something like this is happening in our backyard.
"Our store on Folsom Street is, I believe, the closest dispensary to the stadium, at 0.3 miles away. So we definitely tout that fact."
They're running a current promotion offering discounts through Sunday to those who show a Dead & Company ticket or ticket stub, either at the Folsom Street shop, or their new south Boulder outlet on Manhattan Circle.
He pointed out that Terrapin Care Station is also making use of targeted ads on community websites frequented by Deadheads such as phantasytour.com.
"We see people coming in from out of town," Waldfogel said, "and they definitely want to check out all the great things Colorado has to offer — including cannabis."
For many concertgoers, Rothweiler said, Dead & Company might be their introduction to Boulder.
"And once they're here, we know they're going to come back. It is such a beautiful and unique community. We know they are going to come back, and tell somebody else.
"It has really a wonderful ripple effect, I believe."