Big concert lagged, but Garfield fair a hit
Despite a slight decrease in attendance at the Friday night headliner concert, Garfield County Fair and Events Coordinator Doreen Herriott and members of the Garfield County Fair Board agree: This year’s fair in Rifle was one to be proud of.
“We’ve had really positive feedback from the community,” Herriott said. “Overall ticket sales saw a slight increase outside of the concert.”
After a record-setting year in 2016 with country musicians Josh Turner and Chris Janson setting a record for attendance and ticket sales with 3,483 tickets generating $98,350, this year’s concert saw a decrease in sales of nearly 1,000 tickets.
“Last year was an incredible opportunity with a more powerful pull,” Herriott added. “Concert was down about 1,000 tickets, which came out to $30,000.”
In total, 2,498 tickets were sold for Friday’s concert, which featured Scotty McCreery and Grits and Glamour, generating $68,743. Concert ticket sales reached $79,055 in 2015, more than double the ticket sales collected from the 2014 concert. Herriott said the board makes the ultimate decision on concert acts and may look to secure talent for next year’s concert by as early as October, a quicker timeline than years past.
This year the Garfield County Fair and Rodeo secured a record in terms of sponsorship dollars and donations. With more than $68,000 in cash donations and $79,332 in kind, $147,932 was raised to help support the fair.
Despite the concert dip, nearly every event saw sales numbers increase in 2017. The Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association Xtreme Bulls, which was added to the lineup in 2015, saw an increase from 820 tickets to 1,211 in 2017, generating nearly $1,000 more in sales. Demo Derby ticket sales went from 1,902 in 2015 to more than 2,000 in 2016.
Tuff Trucks did not do half as well as the one-time event Traxxas Monster Truck Destruction Tour from last year. With only $4,195 in sales generated from Tuff Trucks compared to more than $20,000 from Monster Truck, the fair board will continue to assess Sunday events for next year.
As attendance numbers peaked at nearly every event, officials, competitors and attendees alike were able test and debut several additions to the fairgrounds this year.
Some of the improvements included new stalls for horses and livestock with a pathway, a new public address system and renovations to the indoor arena. None received better feedback, though, than the new northeast entrance on 12th Street.
“I heard a lot of good things from competitors about new entry off 12th Street and Railroad,” Herriott said. “We continue to have dedicated Fair Board members and county commissioners and a lot of success of event is cause of them and our army of volunteers that we can’t thank enough.”
“General consensus was that the South Hall remodel helped a lot with flow,” said Donna Mayre, who has been on the Garfield County Fair Board for four years and was instrumental in seeing the improvements made for open class competitions like food preservation. “With the improvements, the county has been utilizing the fairgrounds for a variety of activities.”
She added that she saw more people from Glenwood Springs and Carbondale than ever before, showing that the fairgrounds is becoming a centerpiece for the county, not just Rifle.
Over the past three years, the county has put an estimated $3 million into improvements for the entire complex.
“People seemed to be really impressed, I didn’t hear any negatives,” said Garfield County Commissioner Mike Samson. “Our goal was to turn the fairgrounds into an event center for the entire county.”
Samson hopes that this year’s fair combined with the improvements to the facilities will give the Garfield County Fairgrounds a strong bid from Rifle to host the High School State Rodeo Finals next year.
“I hope that the people who make that decision will notice how smoothly everything ran this year,” he explained. “I think we have the personnel and facilities to do a first-class rodeo championship.”
Fairgrounds Manager Debra Adams submitted the fairgrounds’ bid by Aug. 1 and it will still be several more weeks until a location is determined.