County fair invests in long-term growth

Leadership strives to widen appeal beyond 4-H

The demolition derby at the 2012 La Plata County Fair. The Montezuma County Fair board is hoping that the demolition derby, Chuck Wagon dinner and Cowboy Gathering of the Four Corners will be primary money-makers in Montezuma County. Enlargephoto

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald

The demolition derby at the 2012 La Plata County Fair. The Montezuma County Fair board is hoping that the demolition derby, Chuck Wagon dinner and Cowboy Gathering of the Four Corners will be primary money-makers in Montezuma County.

The Montezuma County Fair Board is investing more in this year's event to draw bigger crowds and begin building the fair into more than just a 4-H event.

"It should be a community-wide showcase," said Jay Lawrence, one of the board members.

The Montezuma County Commissioners granted the board an extra $5,000, for a total of $17,000 in fair funding, said Todd King, fair board president.

"It's a pretty good boost," he said.

All but one of the nine fair board members are in their first or second year of leadership, and they felt it was time to revitalize the fair and attendance. The board hopes to bring in 6,500 people over the course of the four-day fair, about 2,000 more than last year, he said.

However, King and his board have realistic expectations about the first year.

"We understand it will probably take two or three years to educate and retrain the community that this is something for everyone," he said.

The fair board is hoping that the demolition derby, the Chuck Wagon dinner and the Cowboy Gathering of the Four Corners will be primary money-makers for the fair. The Cowboy Gathering of the Four Corners is a new attraction and will include music and poetry performances in the main barn throughout the fair.

Bringing in more vendors was also a priority for the fair, and so far the fair has signed up 30 compared with the 18 of last year, Lawrence said.

The vendors represent a balanced mix of local business people and those from outside the state. Booths will offer a variety of art, food and novelties.

The fair boosted the prices for vendor spaces from $15 to a sliding scale ranging from $50 to $100 based on space.

Any profits the fair makes will be rolled over to make next year's event even bigger, King said.

To help fundraise during the year, the fair board will also be getting into vending with new concession stand called the Rusty Rooster. It will offer snacks, drinks and lunch items during the county's big annual events including the Ag Expo and the Home and Garden Show.

"The fair board had the vision to step out, take chances and look more toward the future instead of just this year," King said.

In future years, King would like to see the fair become a destination for vendors.

He would also like to bring back activities that would hold nostalgia for many such as three-legged races and strongman contests.

"Things you would have seen at fairs a hundred years ago, those are things in particular that I would like to see added," he said.

The fair still has a few empty spaces for vendors. Find applications and more information at www.montezumacountyfair.com