Owners, vendors, praise GOWD's return downtown

Turns out Joe Davis' hassle of packing up and moving downtown Sunday was worth it after all.

"I probably did more business Monday than Saturday and Sunday combined," said Davis, a Broomfield vendor who finished his fourth Grand Olde West Days celebration Monday.

Davis was among numerous vendors who set up early Saturday in the parking lot of the Moffat County Fairgrounds -- many of them wondering how sales would be impacted as part of Memorial Day's Yampa Avenue street festival.

Vendors this year returned downtown for Memorial Day after spending previous three-day weekends camped at the fairgrounds.

"I was happy with the move and I think it's definitely the way to go," said Davis, who sells various nostalgic items and sports memorabilia.

"But I'd come back as long as I can have those entire three days."

While sales varied from tent to tent, vendors and business owners largely praised organizers for bringing back Memorial Day's traditional downtown fanfare.

After years of selling elsewhere, Craig's Audrey and Glenn Prichard offered their assortment of hand-crafted items Monday for the first time during Grand Olde West Days.

While supportive of the downtown vending approach, Monday wasn't a financial windfall, Glenn said.

"It was OK ... wasn't anything to brag about," Glenn Prichard said.

Both Pritchard's and Davis' lone complaint were entry fees -- $80 for a 10-by-10-foot booth in Monday's festival.

"We paid $69 for three days in Rifle (Rendezvous)," Prichard said of the weekend prior to Memorial Day.

"I don't know if we're going to get in it (GOWD) next year," he said.

Sluggish sales couldn't be pinned on turnout Monday. Carol Wilson, a Grand Olde West Days organizer and owner of Neolithics, offered a rough estimate of 6,000 strolling Yampa Avenue under sunny skies.

"There's no real good way to count noses," she said.

Several businesses choosing to remain open reported brisk sales.

"We did double what we normally do on any given weekday," Wilson said.

Just north of Wilson's shop, the Museum of Northwest Colorado set a one-day attendance record of 1,780 visitors. The museum's previous one-day best was 1,700 -- a record set during 2000's Grand Olde West Days

The museum debuted its Buffalo Bill collection Memorial Day.

"People were really ecstatic to have that sense of community again downtown and see their neighbors," said Mary Pat Dunn, exhibit coordinator with the museum.

Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at pshockley@craigdailypress.com

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