After reviewing the final numbers for the fair and rodeo, the Eagle County Commissioners said the event was better than it's been in years, in terms of both finances and entertainment value.
This year, the county is collecting the most comprehensive data it ever has on all the events' costs, operations and attendance. The aim is to analyze how to get a bigger bang for the buck.
Every year the county ends up subsidizing a portion of the fair and rodeo, and that subsidy has been steadily declining since 2009. The final numbers haven't all come in yet, but this year's cash subsidy is between $72,000 and $87,000. In 2009, the subsidy was $232,000, $152,000 in 2010 and $122,000 in 2011.
The county budgeted about $350,000 from its general fund for this year's event. The total cost came in just under $300,000. This year's revenue was about $226,000 while $166,500 had been anticipated.
This year saw more revenue from tickets and concessions, and an increase in sponsorship.
"The increase in sponsorship is awesome and rodeo admission was up, especially considering the Olympics were on and we had some poor weather," said Commissioner Jon Stavney.
The rodeo was sold out on Friday and Saturday.
County Public Works Director Tom Johnson said with more people, the quality and number of vendors increases, which has been the case lately.
"More people attract better vendors," he said.
Among the data collected are zip codes from some of the people entering the rodeo.
"We asked people their home zip codes at the ticket window until it got too busy," said County IT Project Manager Amanda Bay. "We didn't get all of them but it gave us a good sample of where they're coming from.
Fair and rodeo visitors came from all over the country. Several were from Europe. A map made with markers for all the data points pretty well covers the lower 48 states.
Other data collected by the county for the first time is the county's embedded costs, such as man hours that are put into the event. The county invested about 2,400 man hours this year. The average wage per man hour is still being calculated among other soft costs.
"Tracking this will give us a better idea of what our true costs are for this," Stavney said.
The county also intends to count volunteer hours invested.
An aspect about the fair and rodeo that might be improved upon in the future is scheduling.
"The carnival was empty while the 4-H Junior Livestock Auction was going on," said Commissioner Peter Runyon. "Maybe we should find a way to draw people there and other places during slow times. Maybe we could offer family discounts or something."
Stavney and Commissioner Sara Fisher agreed there is potential to further market the fair during times when there is currently only one event like the auction happening.
"There's definitely potential for that," Bay said.
Fisher said getting a more detailed financial breakdown for the county's expenditures associated with the 4-H program could also be prudent.
"I believe that's a program we're subsidizing to a large extent," she said. "What is it truly costing? It would be good to have our arms around that."
All these considerations come as the county prepares to tighten its budgetary bootstraps once again this fall. At least one thing about the fair and rodeo is certain, however - it's here to stay.
"There was a rumor that we were going to do away with it and that is certainly not true," Stavney said.