Carbondale’s economy gets a big boost from Mountain Fair |

Carbondale’s economy gets a big boost from Mountain Fair

CARBONDALE ” Mountain Fair weekend is traditionally one of the biggest moneymakers of the year, not only for the Fair’s sponsors, but for Carbondale as a whole.

Over the past three years, Mountain Fair vendors alone have generated an average of $16,000 in sales taxes for the town. Overall, July, which always include the three-day Mountain Fair weekend, is traditionally one of the strongest months for sales taxes. July sales tax collections (reflected in the August report) topped $250,000 in 2003, and dropped some to about $243,000 last year.

“The summer months are our largest months anyway,” Carbondale Finance Director Nancy Barnett said. “We can’t quite quantify the total impact of Mountain Fair, but we do know there’s an impact.”

The Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities, which sponsors the fair, netted about $50,000 from last year’s Mountain Fair, according to CCAH interim director Ro Mead.

Overall, last year’s fair generated about $360,000 from arts and crafts booths and $120,000 from food booths. The Cantina beer garden, which also raises money for CCAH, grossed about $40,000.

The impact on businesses outside the fair is hard to quantify. But most any business owner will say it’s the biggest weekend of the year, also.

“Just in talking to people, everybody increases business during the fair,” Mead said. “When you have 21,000 people in town, they are going to go to other stores and restaurants.”

“The impact outside of the fair adds a huge component to the weekend,” longtime Mountain Fair board member Bob Schultz added.

He noted that the University of Colorado Business School Research Division did an analysis of the Mountain Fair in 1990. As a result, the fair became a model for other arts groups around the state to organize festivals.

“And Mountain Fair only drew about 10,000 people then, and the town had 2,500 people,” Schultz said. “Obviously, the economic impact is even greater now.”

On the expense side of the town’s finances, Mountain Fair weekend is also one of the biggest overtime weekends for the town’s police, public works and other departments, which cuts into the increased revenues some.

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