Crowds expected in county during fest
A top Summit County official says Kimball Junction could descend into gridlock this weekend as huge crowds exit Interstate 80 on their way to the Sundance Film Festival.
"I think we’re going to see more people parking down in the Basin and shuttling in, and that’s going to have an impact in terms of how things function there," said Kevin Callahan, Summit County’s Public Works chief.
Accommodating the public at Sundance movies screening for the first time this year at Redstone 8 Cinemas and those who take advantage of free parking in Snyderville to shuttle into Old Town will underscore the need for park-and-ride lots, Callahan said.
"It’s just getting harder to get in and out of Park City and it’ll probably spur us to move forward on these park-and-ride lots because I don’t think this festival is getting any smaller," he said, adding that in January a record number of people have ridden buses between the Junction and Park City. "The ridership on the Kimball express route has gone up 50 percent. We’re carrying full buses every hour on that route, even before Sundance."
Many of those riders are commuters so "we’re going to start to run into issues in terms of impacting the businesses," according to Callahan.
"We’re running out of places in town to do [films] and I think they’re trying to expand," he said about the new Redstone Sundance screenings.
Merchants in Snyderville welcome festival-goers at their stores that are eight miles from downtown Park City.
"It can’t hurt," said Francine Valline, an employee at the Redstone Gallery. "We’re hoping that they’ll get out of the movie, or maybe get here a little early before the movie, and they’ll wander up and down the Redstone Center Drive and wander in."
Where hotels and restaurants are often booked during Sundance, filmgoers are "not big shoppers," she lamented.
"Sundance is never great for retailers," Valline said. "But it’s great exposure and advertising for us for the rest of the year."
Sold-out crowds at larger venues like the Eccles Center, where 1,270 people routinely watch films, means a few opportunities exist to see independent movies at Redstone, where the week-long run includes "Phantom Love," "Fraulein," "Waitress," Noise," "Expired," "Drained," "Dedication" and "Khadak."
The movies are entered in the New Frontier, World Dramatic and Spectrum categories at Sundance, one the world’s most popular film festivals where past premieres have included "The Blair Witch Project" and "Napoleon Dynamite."
"It’s very exciting, definitely different for this theater," Redstone 8 Cinemas general manager Stephen Simmons said.
Sixteen public screenings are planned in a theater that seats 185 people. The remaining theaters at Redstone will remain open and show regular films during Sundance.
"They were looking for another venue where they could set up more seats and more screenings," said Simmons, who added that Sundance tickets at Redstone are scarce. "They’re running out and are a really hard thing to get now."
Summit County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Sherm Farnsworth insists more screenings are attempts by Sundance brass to reduce traffic congestion in Park City.
"We should see more people out here just from the fact that there is going to be a venue site out here," Farnsworth said.
Previous Sundance screenings at Redstone were reserved for Sundance sponsors, festival spokesman Patrick Hubley explained.
"This is an experiment we’re doing this year," he said, adding, "After hosting some sponsor screenings, we were able to work out a way to have public screenings."
According to Jill Miller, the managing director of the Sundance Institute who touts free parking at Kimball Junction, Snyderville Basin residents wanted a venue closer to their homes.
"The demand is there. This is something we can do without significant impact in terms of logistics," Miller recently told The Park Record.
Redstone will be the second Park City area Sundance location that is built as a movie theater. The organizers have been showing films at Holiday Village Cinemas for years.
From Jan 20-27 Sundance films will be shown daily at Redstone 8 Cinemas, 6030 N. Market Street, at 6:30 and 9:30 p.m.
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Buses, trains and gondolas doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but they make up the transit alternatives for the mountain transportation system the Central Wasatch Commission is trying to create, mostly in the Cottonwood canyons.