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Colorado State Fair Ferris Wheel (PULP Colorado)

2020’s Colorado State Fair isn’t canceled but it won’t be the same, thanks COVID-19

Gone are the concerts, the rodeo, the shopping exhibitions, the meandering lounging around the Colorado State Fair and the potentially millions of dollars the last of the summer festival drives.

On Tuesday, the Colorado State Fair board canceled a majority of the events, concerts, and activities, calling it a “Colorado State Fair Reimagined” which runs August 28 to September 7.

The new focus is on what the state fair can pull off with smaller crowds with a strong emphasis on Colorado agricultural heritage.

Why it matters:

Pueblo’s economy relies both on the 10-day festival and year-round activities of the Colorado State Fair and Fair Grounds. The regional impact is estimated at $30 million for the operation that can attract around 450k attendees. In 2019, the state fair attracted 466k attendees.

What is gone: 

Concerts, shows, indoor events, and indoor exhibitions.

What stays:

“Activities being considered include the Junior Livestock Show and Sale, FFA Heifer Wrangle, Catch-a-Calf, 4-H Horse Show, 4-H Dog Show, 4-H Rocketry, and 4-H Static Exhibits as well as limited food and vendor booths, a limited carnival presence and virtual competitive exhibits.”

It’s a lot about having manageable crowds. 

Even though many of the activities at the state fair are outside, fair officials worried it would be impossible to enforce and manage daily crowds of tens of thousands even if they remain outside.

Scott Stoller told PULP in May, “There is not enough police in the state to enforce that.”

What they are saying: 

Pueblo Mayor Nick Gradisar on the economic impact: 

“It’s not the State Fair of the past, but it is going forward. I’m pleased they are doing what they can.”

“We thought the city would take as much as a 70% drop in sales revenue in April; the city only took an 8% loss. So, I’m not going not to predict the impact of a modified fair. We’ll just have to see.”

Scott Stoller Colorado State Fair General Manager:

“This year, it means managing smaller groups of people on the fairground property, maintaining social distancing, and providing it for use as a testing site. We are still working hard to honor the work our Colorado 4-H and FFA youth have invested in preparing for this year’s fair.”

What we won’t know:

The COVID-19 numbers in August. How the event proceeds depends on the number  of COVID-19 cases in August and whether or not amenities can be added or are taken away.

The question:

How do you lose hundreds of thousands of fair attendees and not have that impact on the Pueblo economy? That answer will come in the fall. 

Big Picture: 

“At least it stays open, and they didn’t have to shut it down.” – Pueblo Mayor Nick Gradisar.