This Montrose County Fair Week is different from all of its predecessors. For the first time, much of the fair will be held at the County’s brand new Event Center.
The fair runs from Monday, July 23 through Saturday, July 28.
Some events are free, but you’ll have to buy tickets for others, according to Fairgrounds and Events Center Director Emily Sanchez. “There are some ticketed events,” she said. “But all animal shows are free, and Community Night is free.
“We have this year a dirt bike stunt show on Friday, July 27; that one is $20. We have the Colorado Professional Rodeo Association rodeo on Saturday, July 28; that’s $10. We have the Clare Dunn Concert also on Saturday, July 28, and that’s also $20.”
Several of the events will be held at the new Event Center, according to Sanchez. “We are hosting the Junior Horse Show, the Open Gymkhana, the Dog Show, team roping, and the Clare Dunn Concert.”
The Event Center opened its doors for the first time in April. Sanchez said it’s been somewhat challenging to integrate the Event Center operation with Friendship Hall and other aspects of the fair. “It’s just a lot of logistics.” She has spent a lot of time and effort coordinating with the County Fair Board to figure out what works best with their featured items and the Event Center. If it sounds a bit complicated to you, “It is. I anticipate that this year they’ll kind of run through it, and next year they’ll make a lot of changes,” Sanchez said. “The Event Center has gone through a lot of changes in the last year, so it’s kind of affected their (the Fair’s) event. There is a lot of opportunity with this building for them to grow and change the Fair as well.
“We removed the grass area, which they had used for the dog show and Community Night,” Sanchez explained. “We increased our parking availibility. So, it’s going to be easier to get to the facility and easier to park. But, some of those events have had to be relocated to different venues; the dog show we’ll actually host inside the Event Center, and Community Night will be hosted in the Arena and Grandstand.”
Parking has increased considerably, Sanchez explained. “Now, we’re upwards of a thousand spaces. That’s a little different during the Fair because we have lots off trucks, trailers, and campers. But, at a normal event, we’d have about a thousand spaces.”
Sanchez works closely with the ten volunteers who comprise the Montrose County Fair Board. “For the Fair, there is a Fair Board. It’s made up of ten members right now, and they organize and plan the Fair. We’re the facility that helps to host it. So, I’m in charge of Friendship Hall, the Fairgrounds, and the Event Center, but not the actual planning of the Fair.”
The Montrose Monitor asked if it has been difficult to get musical acts to come here. Sanchez responded by saying, “This is only the second year that the Fair Board has actually tried to have a musical act at the Fairgrounds. I don’t think the’ve had any problem actually booking an act. But, there are a lot of logistics that go with that. In regards to outside the Event Center and the Fairgrounds as a whole, there is a lot of interest there; it’s more a matter of figuring out the money side. Like, how do you make it work in this community with what we have and the number of seats we have.”
So how do you make it work? “I’m looking for the right promoter. I don’t know that yet.” Sanchez said they are reaching out to local and non-local promoters. “We reach out to all kinds of people. Our Monster Truck guy was not a local, but he brought a really good, diverse event. If a local promoter was interested in renting the building and working with us, we absolutely would.”
We asked Sanchez about the Event Center’s costs and profit potential. “In regards to our operating costs, we’ll probably be right at half a million dollars, and our debt service is a little over $300,000. So, about a total of $800,000. I do not anticipate that we will make that.”
They do not have a five year plan, so it’s hard to anticipate when the Event Center might turn a profit for the County.”In our projections, it’s not in the next five years,” Sanchez explained.
In fact, it’s very difficult to predict when the facility might make money because you can’t run it like a private business. “This is a community facility,” Sanchez explained,” so events like graduation we host for free. The flu clinic we host for free. There are situations where we are not making money but are making an economic impact on the community. If you look back at the PRCA Horse Show that just happened, we had 100 contestants that came into the area to participate and stayed for three days. Although we made a little profit, the show had an economic impact that isn’t shown here at the Event Center.
“Ideally, we would break even in the next ten years, but our projections don’t show that.”
Emily Sanchez is a Montrose native. “I grew up in Montrose, went to high school here, graduated from here, went to college at Colorado State University. From there, I worked at the National Western Stock Show in Denver for four years, before returning here to open my own business.
“In 2009, I was hired as the Montrose County Fairgrounds Manager, and have been here for about the last nine years.”
For more informatiion about the Event Center, please visit montrosecountyeventcenter.com.