The Carbondale Wild West Rodeo is looking at putting together a shuttle since negotiations over parking broke down.
The rodeo has been staged 12 times throughout the summer for the last 10 years at the Gus Darien arena. The arena itself is owned by the town of Carbondale and has hosted various rodeos since the ’70s. In recent years, the Colorado Wild West Rodeo Association has leased an adjacent pasture to accommodate additional parking for the event.
This year, the pasture’s owner wants to increase the price and limit the lease to a 100-by-100-foot square, according to Melanie Cardiff, secretary and volunteer administrator for the rodeo. That’s about a third of the space usually offered, rodeo organizers said in a presentation before the Carbondale board of trustees last week.
“We’re still willing to work with him,” Cardiff said of the land owner. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed that maybe they’ll have a change of heart.”
The sticking point seems to be the loss of space more than the increase in price.
“I think the rodeo board was willing to pay the extra,” said Jeff Jackel, Carbondale’s recreation director.
The space offered, however, was deemed inadequate to meet the event’s needs. With the year’s first rodeo scheduled for June 5, rodeo officials can’t afford to wait before considering other options.
Several possibilities for offsetting the shortfall have been discussed, including pricing to encourage alternative transportation and leasing other nearby lots.
The rodeo already has a $30 flat vehicle fee for carloads of up to six people. The price point extends to groups of bicyclists, but the dark path from town discourages many bikers.
Several adjacent properties have been considered for parking, Cardiff said, but have fallen through for various reasons. A space across the street has offered overflow parking before, but lacks the space to cover the shortfall. Another pasture down the road is home to an endangered plant and can’t be used for parking. With potential sites in the immediate vicinity exhausted, a shuttle might be the best remaining solution, but it comes with its own set of problems.
“We don’t know where we’re getting the buses and the drivers, or what the cost is going to be,” Cardiff said. “We’re asking the community to help. It’s critical that we try and get this worked out.”
So far, no one has come forward with a plan. Organizers are reaching out to potential candidates including the school district, RFTA and local raft and tour groups.
Anyone with a lead on a potential shuttle can contact the Carbondale Wild West Rodeo Association through its website, carbondalerodeo.com.