The Montezuma County Fairgrounds and veteran services continue to show strong growth, according to reports presented to county commissioners.
Last year, there were 273 days with major events or practices, compared with 217 days in 2015. In 2016, 78,140 people visited the fairgrounds, compared with 64,555 in 2015, according to fairgrounds manager Tanner Young.
“We continue to get more and more busy,” said Young.
Revenues at the fairgrounds increased to $70,000 in 2016, Young said, compared with $68,400 in 2015. The fairgrounds has three full-time employees on a $200,000 annual budget paid out of county coffers and collected fees.
Young attributed the growth to the increase and diversity of events, which attracts a wider audience.
In addition to the traditional rodeos, fairs, tack sales, gun shows, agricultural events, home and garden shows, the fairgrounds also regularly hosts car races, demolition derbies, dog shows, concerts, the Teen Maze, circuses and the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde mountain bike race.
In the past two years, the fairgrounds has added the Steve Blackwell Ultimate Outdoor and Gun Show, an addition to the long-standing Cortez Gun Show. It also increased junior rodeo events and started hosting three circuses, instead of just one.
Recent upgrades include new sand for the outdoor arena to improve horse footing and new rodeo bucking chutes. In recent years, a new roof was installed over the outdoor arena grandstands, and lights were replaced with energy saving LED’s. A boiler run on recycled oil saves $30,000 per year in heating costs, the report said.
Young said he would like to see more music events in the 2,800-capacity outdoor grandstands, which was fitted with a roof for the audience in 2013.
“We have the venue for it, so we’re hoping to get more on the radar for concert producers,” he said.
Visits to veterans offices doublesIn 2016, the county’s Veteran Services office continued to see increased activity.
The office reported 2,653 office visits in 2016, up from 1,033 in 2013, said Veterans Service officer Rick Torres.
New benefits awarded to local veterans totaled almost $1.35 million for 2016. In addition, $749,659 was paid in retroactive payments.
In the past two years, the office recently hired two new claims processors to serve veterans seeking their benefits.
“We navigate the bureaucracy for them,” Torres said. “The benefits helps our veterans in so many ways, whether it’s to pay for health care, day-to-day expenses, getting out of debt, helping their relatives or keeping their housing.”
The veterans office is in the county annex, 107 N. Chestnut St., Suite 3 in Cortez. The phone number is 970-564-2779.