Winter Festival in the works

MCTA looking at large funding amount

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In other action

At its Wednesday meeting, the Moffat County Tourism Association board:

• Discussed a "geo caching" program for Moffat County. Around the country, people look online for the GPS coordinates of small boxes with items inside left by other people, MCTA board member Patricia McCaffrey said. People find the box, take the item, leave a new one and sign the log attached to the box.

• Proposed changes to its bylaws. Potential changes include having the board president run meetings, creating a "Secretary/Treasurer" position and impose time limits on meeting agenda items. The board plans to look at the position amendments at its next meeting. The amendment for time limits was given up, as board members agreed MCTA should post the times on its agenda instead of putting them into the bylaws.

• Reviewed funding guidelines for 2008. The board is looking to change its request cycle from once per year in February, to twice per year in February and June. The board does not want to take requests year-round.

The board also wants to change its funding limits. Instead of $500 for advertising and $750 for new event seed money, the board wants to eliminate restrictions.

In addition, the board wants specific information about how its contributions are spent. Board members felt recent contributions were not followed up on by the board or events that received money.

• Executive Director Shelly Flannery reported she applied for a Colorado Tourism Office grant that day. The grant asks the state for $17,000 to go toward print advertising, tradeshow participation, maps, brochures and CD and DVD packages. MCTA plans to match the grant with $17,000.

— Nicky Boulger, office manager and curator at the Wyman Museum, is making her idea happen.

For the past two Februarys, the Wyman Museum hosted the Antique Snowmobile Show with growing success, she said.

Now, Boulger is seeking to make the Snowmobile Show a Winter Festival, and she asked Moffat County Tourism Association for $1,500 to help make it happen. She pitched her ideas to the MCTA at its meeting Wednesday.

The MCTA board asked Boulger to come back in January with more specific information regarding how the money would be spent on advertising.

Whether Boulger receives MCTA funding, the event will happen, but more dollars would begat more events.

Boulger is accepting sponsorships from area businesses, and has garnered a lot of interest, she said.

In exchange for so much money, businesses can have ice sculptures made and put outside their business, Boulger said.

Last year, the Snowmobile Show expanded to include ice sculptors, which seemed to draw more interest, she said. Compared to 150 people the first year, 296 people attended the second.

With that in mind, Boulger wants to makes the event bigger, bring more ice sculptors, and maybe some other events, too.

She mentioned dog sledding and an outfitter cook-off - "To see who the best camp cook is," Boulger said - as possibilities.

"We want to make this a big event," Boulger said. "We're trying to make a winter festival that people will come to Craig and see."

Right now, there isn't anything attracting people to Craig between January and May, she said. A winter festival could draw people from Steamboat Springs, tourists from Steamboat Springs and tourists from even further, she added.

Last year, Boulger said, the Snowmobile Show had guests from seven states besides Colorado.

MCTA board members were excited about supporting a new event in a historically slow time of the year for tourism.

"I think we might consider priority for new events and events in off or shoulder seasons," MCTA board member Frank Moe said.

The board president Tammie Thompson-Booker agreed.

"I think the community can see the impact when it happens in February as opposed to nothing happening in February," Thompson-Booker said.

The board was reluctant to promise so much money.

Last year, MCTA limited contributions to $500 for advertising and $750 for new event seed money.

However, prior to Boulger's request, the board took under advisement from its president to go into the new year without funding limitations.

The board tabled final decisions on funding guidelines until its meeting January 16.

Another caveat was that some community members see the living situation of its director as a conflict, Thompson-Booker said.

MCTA Executive Director Shelly Flannery lives on the property of Lou Wyman, who owns the Wyman Museum.

MCTA members also want to start asking for more specific information from potential event planners, they said.

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