Kandee Dilldine, Moffat County Tourism Association Board chairwoman, said the Maybell Cultural Heritage Days event has recently grown in both size and prominence in the area.
“It brings awareness to the other half of our county and it is not even the other half because really that is our county, that is the rest of our state out there,” Dilldine said.
However, the event, which coincides with the annual Sombrero Ranches Horse Drive in the town 30 miles west of Craig, won’t take place in early May has it has for the last several years.
“I think it is unfortunate it is not going to happen this year because I think a lot of people really did enjoy going out there to see that part that we aren’t aware of a lot of times,” Dilldine said.
Earlier this month, the event, which drew more than 1,500 people last year, was canceled due to what organizer Lisa Balstad called “permitting issues.” At the time, Balstad declined to comment further about what permits were prohibiting the event from taking place.
MCTA Director Marilynn Hill said she heard questions from the community about what permits were needed, but was unable to get an answer from organizers as well.
“I said (to Balstad), ‘You know, this is such a big deal in the community that if we can have more information, and if it was a money thing, that quite possibly with that information we could go out and get more money to provide permitting fees,’” Hill said. “She said she would take it back to the Maybell Heritage Days board and that she would get back with me.”
Balstad could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Hill said she thought that because of the event’s size, “apparently they caught the attention of some people.”
Cpt. Jack Cowart, Colorado State Patrol Troop 4B commander, said he talked with the event’s organizers about issuing a special event permit in mid-February.
“Anytime there is a special event that impedes or affects state highway, the state patrol has to issue a permit for that,” he said. “In most cases, it is not a problem. It allows the state patrol to provide state troopers or some sort of security in the area during the event to ensure the safety of the event.”
However, Cowart said he was unsure why the event, which takes place near U.S. Highway 40 in Maybell Park, was canceled.
Special event applications, which carry a $25 fee, also require insurance, 60 days prior notice, paperwork and a list of plans, routes and possible road closures needed, Cowart said.
The state patrol also may require the presence of one or more state troopers at the event at a cost of $56.40 per trooper per hour, according to the event application.
“We would take a look at that here at state patrol and determine whether or not we need to put a state trooper out there, or perhaps several depending on the magnitude of the event,” Cowart said. “If we have to do that, we need to charge them for the time of the state troopers because it being a private event, we can’t donate that time in most cases.”
Such application requirements sometimes deter organizations from hosting an event, Cowart said.
“It may make them realize that perhaps they need to go a little further into their planning before they actually hold an event,” he said.
Sombrero Ranches officials confirmed earlier this month they would still be driving horses through Maybell on Highway 40.
Cowart said the Sombrero Ranches horse drive did not need a permit this year and noted the necessity of permits depends on “the magnitude of the impact on the highway.”
“Because Maybell decided not to have an event this year, it reduces the amount of impact on the highway and therefore I made the decision to not require Sombrero to have a permit this year,” he said.
However, “next year could be a different story,” he said.
“What I am going to do is go out and observe it this year and determine whether or not this event will require one in future years,” he said. “Or, if the event changes, it gets more complicated with other events attached to it. In that case, we will probably require troopers out there to protect the road.”
Hill said the MCTA board recently voted to award $7,200 to fund Maybell Cultural Heritage Days. MCTA doesn’t send money to events up front, rather it reimburses the event afterwards, Hill noted.
“They don’t owe us any money at all,” she said. “However, I have offered … to try to go out into the community and find more funding for the purpose of the permitting if the permitting fees were keeping them from moving forward.”
Hill said MCTA members spoke with Colorado Tourism Office Director Al White about the issue, but haven’t heard back.
“Al said he would do anything he possibly could that was within reason to try to make that happen if we could provide more information,” she said.
Hill said the cancellation would have an impact on tourism and economic development in Maybell and the county as a whole.
“If it is postponed or canceled, it takes a pretty large chunk of the dollars that they make to start their season up … completely out of play,” Hill said of Maybell businesses.
Dilldine said the event could be affected for years to come.
“Anytime you have an event that happens every year, if it doesn’t happen one year, then people automatically assume it is not going to happen again,” she said. “So from the tourism and the marketing part of it, next year you are going to have to market it twice as hard.”
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