Grand County summer tourism season heats up after cool start
July 22, 2008
Some Grand County leaders say summer tourism began slightly slower this season than last year, but there are indications a strong finish may materialize. Catherine Ross, Winter Park-Fraser Chamber of Commerce executive director, said more people attended this years Fourth of July events than in past years. The Fraser River Valley Lions Club Pancake Breakfast sold out, and the number of participants in the Rendezvous Run for Independence increased from 350 to 500. Large crowds also supported the La Vita e Bella Italian Festival July 11-13, she added. We had a slow start this summer, Ross said, because it rained and snowed.Nor did $4-per-gallon gas prices and reports of a poor economy help, she noted.Tourism is now doing about as well as last year, Ross said. It feels like July is pacing with last July. We have lots of events still to come. We have some big events in August. Those include the Winter Park Jazz Festival July 26-27; Grand County Parade of Homes Aug. 9-10; Salute to American Veterans Rally & Festival Aug. 15-17; and Hawgfest 2008, Aug 16-17.The chamber hopes people from the Front Range continue to visit and take small vacations while escaping from the heat, Ross said.Meanwhile, Kremmling Chamber of Commerce officials report that summer tourism is brisk so far. We are very steady right now, said Executive Director Leslie Torma. Our numbers have increased slightly since last year.At a recent board meeting, officials showed that numbers are up from last year. She said many visitors have traveled to the area from far away, and gas prices dont seem to hurt them.The economy doesnt appear to be slowing them down, either. Not from our perspectives, not from what were seeing, Torma said. More people are visiting the Visitor Center, and she credits this partially to a more visible Visitor Center, which is just about two years old.Nearly 60 people had already visited the center by Monday afternoon. Since the Fourth of July Kremmling has been non-stop, she said, and hotels are starting to fill for the River Days event Aug 16.(Overall) everyone seems to be doing fairly well, Torma added.Fourth of July weekend also gave Grand Lake a good start, says Brad Taylor, Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce executive director.We had one of our busiest Fourth of July weekends up here in recent memory, he said. Fourth of July weekend and last weekends Buffalo BBQ brought in many visitors. Those are two of the busiest weekends of the summer, Taylor said.He said hits on the Chambers Web site have increased, but visitors have decreased.The feeling is that it is a bit slower than it was at this time last year.Some vacationers are booking trips late, but the economy may also be playing a role, he said. However, the town has still been sold out several weekends, although sellout dates are not happening as early as last year, Taylor said. He expects the town, which has been a summer destination for more than 100 years, to remain busy for the rest of summer. The economy also is affecting tourism in Granby, says Sharon Brenner, Granby Chamber of Commerce president. It is slower than last year, she said.I dont know if its as good as last year, Brenner said. I think (the economys) affecting us to some extent. However, tourism has picked up since Memorial Day weekend, she said.