By Mary Jo Coulehan
Pagosa Springs Area Chamber of Commerce
As for most organizations in 2020, canceling fundraisers and events has been a difficult decision. Not even mentioning the fun that most of the fundraisers provide, there are the fundraising dollars that are critical to the organization’s livelihood. In a difficult decision, the Chamber of Commerce made the decision to cancel both the Car Show — which had already had been postponed from June to August, and ColorFest — typically held in September.
Not knowing how long the pandemic and the restrictions set forth were going to last, the Chamber made the decision in April to postpone the Car Show until August. Hoping that our community would be stabilized and restrictions eased, we planned to delay the Car Show and still have our traditional show — just a little later. The response to that decision from car enthusiasts and locals was very positive. Many communities canceled their shows early and car collectors were just aching to get out and display their pride and joy vehicles. The Chamber has been actively planning ways that we could distance the cars, offer activities that included social distancing and still be responsible. After looking at several locations and getting thwarted at every turn by a restriction or construction problem, and reviewing the increased positive COVID testing numbers, the Chamber made the decision to cancel the show altogether.
ColorFest was a much clearer decision to cancel. The numbers of people that gather for each of the activities including the balloon rally, wine and food tasting and beer fest are just too great to manage safely. No different than some of the other large events such as the Folk Festival and the County Fair, the Chamber felt we could not handle such a large event safely given today’s community status. Related ColorFest events such as Breakfast with Balloons and the Color Run/Walk have also been canceled.
Again, similar to some of the other community organizations that are “pivoting” and trying to think of other ways to keep the community engaged, the Chamber is also looking at a different ColorFest “activity.” We still want to celebrate this beautiful time of year, keep ColorFest in the minds of our residents and visitors who travel to Pagosa solely for that event and have some fun. Stay tuned to see if we will be able to pull off a more virtual event.
We also understand that events such as these are economic drivers to our community, especially our lodging, retail and food service industries. We know a decision like this affects your businesses, and so do not take making these decisions lightly. What this year has taught us is that we will probably never go back to the way things have always been done. We will take this year to plan, adjust, rearrange and hopefully be prepared for next year and the return of our events. Thank you to the community for your continued support.