Is money well spent at the fairgrounds? |

Is money well spent at the fairgrounds?

Scott N. Miller

EAGLE COUNTY – A lot of people are interviewing for this job. Six candidates are running to replace Eagle County Commissioner Tom Stone, who can’t run for another term due to the state’s term limits law. The field includes three Republicans, two Democrats and an independent. The field will drop to three after the Aug. 8 party primaries.The Vail Daily is asking the candidates one question a week between now and the primary, and then until Election Day, Nov. 7. Readers can submit questions for the candidates to We’ll consider those questions as well as the ones already on our list.This week’s question: Is the new pavilion at the Eagle County Fairgrounds worth the expense?Michael Bair (R – Basalt)This is two questions in one: Are the county fairgrounds worth putting money into, and did we spend the money wisely? I believe that the rodeo and fair are an important part of our heritage, and part of the charm and character that attracts people to Eagle County. The new pavilion keeps our fair up to date, competitive and fresh. As to the expense, sometimes a large initial cost can be offset by the financial returns that asset generates. Now that we have the pavilion, it is our challenge as county residents to use this beautiful asset to its fullest. Hugo Benson (R – Gypsum)Don’t you think it is a little late to ask that question? Not being privy to the original planning process, I am assuming that it was designed with multiple uses in mind. We spent a lot of money and we have a great big fine pavilion. Let’s talk about ways to make this facility work for all Eagle County residents. Certainly the Stock Show in Denver is a tribute to our Western Heritage and a boon to Denver’s economy. I’m sure the Fair and Rodeo Board either have or can gather enough ideas for the profitable use of that building.Roger Brown (Independent – Gypsum)In the long run I think the new pavilion will be worth the expense even though there have been cost overruns and other irregularities that some knowledgeable folks are unhappy about. Groups are already booking the pavilion. This will bring much needed new business into the Eagle area.Livestock activities can be held year-round. This will help to keep our cowboy culture alive and kicking, pardon the pun. And a floor can be rolled out over the dirt to host other kinds of events.It’s a good thing.Tom Edwards (R – Gypsum)Yes. I was an advocate of increasing the size of the original proposal to what has been built today so that a number of increased uses could be hosted in the facility. The pavilion will provide a venue for business and recreational uses as well as serving the needs of the 4-H and ranching community. Ranching is a historic way of life in Eagle County and the pavilion will serve as a location to showcase the western heritage that is a part of our county. The letter at that I drafted for the Chamber of Commerce expresses my thoughts. Sara Fisher (D – Gypsum)I have always been a faithful supporter of 4-H, our county fair, and local rodeo events. But I am suspect of spending $4 million on a facility that was approved at a cost of $1.9 million.Had this project advanced with less urgency and better planning, a more suitable, less costly structure could have been built to accommodate the needs of its expected patrons. Although it was proposed to be a venue for a variety of activities, few potential customers have been identified. Meanwhile construction costs continue to soar. It looks to fall short of being the adequate, year-round events center promised.Mike Lederhause (D – Colorado River Road)It is important to preserve our western heritage and prepare for the future. The county has outgrown the old exhibit hall at the fairgrounds and the new building will not only serve the needs of the fair and rodeo, but will serve the needs of a changing community.Vail, Colorado

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