Fri August 24, 2012

Colorado State Fair Kicks Off

The 140th annual Colorado State Fair began this morning in Pueblo and runs through Labor Day. But, the fairs opening weekend coincides with another Colorado event drawing a large number of spectators, the USA Pro Cycling Challenge which wraps up in Denver Sunday.

But State fair general manager Chris Wiseman isn’t worried that the race will deter people making the trip to Pueblo.

“We actually went right up against the DNC convention that was in Denver and we did well. We draw a certain crowd about 80 miles around Pueblo, that’s where the bulk of our attendance comes from. Colorado Springs is a big part of our market and they do have a couple of events going on up there. But they’re not new, they’ve happened over the last few years. So I’m not really worried about the events you mentioned hurting our attendance. I think overall we are going to do pretty good.”

Many tourism-based industries have experienced a drop in business when out-of-state visitors were put off by all the media attention with this summer’s wildfires and extreme heat. Wiseman says that won’t be the case for the fair since only about 8% of fairgoers come from out of state.

“Attendance goes up and down depending on the shows and different things you have at the fair. But, I’ pretty much expect the attendance will be around where it was last year. We’ve been averaging a little over a half of million people the last three years and we expect that’s pretty much where it’s going to be this year too.”

After projecting a budget shortfall in 2011, the Colorado State Fair received $375,000 from the state-Department of Agriculture to help stay afloat. If the expected half of a million people attend the fair Wiseman says they should turn a profit.

“We would like to have revenues hear anywhere from 750-thousand to a million dollars. We’ve been in that range the last few years. That carries us through our non fair businesss. This year we finished with a little help from the department of Ag with a profit of 128-thousand. I hope we won’t have to request any of those funds.”

An economic impact report commissioned by the Colorado State Fair shows the fairgrounds provide nearly $34 million in economic activity to Colorado throughout the year.  $29 million of that is driven by the annual State Fair event.

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