T-storms fail to wash away T-Days
OCC event perseveres despite wet weather

       It was the rainiest Territory Days in years, but people seemed determined not to give up on the annual three-day festival in Old Colorado City May 23-25, continually coming back when the skies even partially cleared.
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Despite rain that started falling at the start of his performance in the Bancroft Park bandshell the afternoon of May 23 (the first day of Territory Days), country rocker Trent Tomlinson was able to get his show in. Other musicians were not so lucky during the rainy festival.
Westside Pioneer photo

       “Coloradans showed how hardy they are,” event coordinator Lynda Dunne laughed. “They still came out and played.”
       Nevertheless, numbers were unavoidably down - she estimated total attendance at something over 80,000, compared with up to 140,000 in sunnier years. And, taxable sales were $248,500, compared with last year's $395,800, she said.
       Carefully watching the final tallies will be the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) merchants group, for which the event is meant to be a profitable enterprise. After costs such as police, shuttle buses and cleanup, the net income is used for marketing the historic shopping district. Some earnings are basically the same year to year (booth rentals from 200-some street vendors) while others (percentages of food and drink sales) rise in better years. The high-low swing, according to past OCCA information, can be as much as $30,000.
       Saturday had some afternoon rain, which thinned the crowd for one of the festival headliners, national country rock star Trent Tomlinson and other acts in Bancroft Park. Sunday was when the big rain came. It started around noon, light enough at first that the Fast Draw organizers tried to get their event going on schedule. But a short in the system stymied the first shooters and by then the precipitation, punctuated by thunder and lightning, was too constant to fix the problem.
       Canceled around the same time was the event headliner, the nationally charted Eli Young Band, and all the other Sunday bands. A redundant power supply blew out, and the event sound crew did not want to risk troubleshooting until things got dry again.
       “The equipment was so wet, it was dangerous,” Dunne said. The rain's intensity even revealed an issue with the Bancroft bandshell that she had not noticed in 20 years of coordinating the event: The roof has no gutters. “The water pours onto the stage,” she said. “We wound up going to Goodwill and buying every towel they had.”
       Checks of random vendors and merchants showed nobody doing as well as last year. The rain pushed people under awnings or into stores - which in sunny years sometimes get overlooked with the vendors in the street - but no merchant reported high volumes of sales as a result. One said he even invited people inside to stay dry, but most preferred standing outside under his awning.
       What was impressive to Dunne was that the event did not become deserted. Even on Sunday, people kept reappearing when the rain slowed. And on Monday, when it rained again but not as fiercely, the crowds appeared to be larger than usual for what's usually the lightest day of the annual event. “Monday was huge,” Dunne said. “That's what put us to the 80,000 mark.”
       One activity unaffected by the rain was the laser tag competition that was to have been one of two new offerings this year (the other was the remote car races). That was because the laser tag group never showed up, leaving an empty space on 25th Street. “I was disappointed about that,” Dunne said.
       On the plus side, no major problems, such as drunkneness or brawling, were reported. “It was pretty calm, other than the thunder and lightning,” she said.

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