Moffat County Commission considers details in linking events

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In other action ...

At its regular meeting Tuesday, the Moffat County Commission:

• Approved, 2-0, January’s supplemental budget.

• Appointed, 2-0, Katrina Springer to the Moffat County Fair Board.

• Appointed, 2-0, Marg Duzik to the Museum of Northwest Colorado Advisory Board, and Peter Miles, Glenda Cooper, Dave Johnson and Bill Lawrence as alternates.

— Commission chairman Tom Gray was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

Organizers of two of the community’s newest summer events have decided to join forces for three days of balloons and barbecue.

Randy Looper and Jeff Smith said Tuesday that the planning committees for the Moffat County Hot Air Balloon Festival and the Colorado State BBQ Championship at Craig have agreed to combine events into one weekend.

Looper and Smith, representing the balloon festival, met Tuesday with the Moffat County Commission to request access to Loudy-Simpson Park for the combined event.

“Their (BBQ Championship) strengths are Friday night and Saturday afternoon,” Looper said. “Our strengths are Saturday morning, Saturday night and Sunday morning, so if you combine them it makes a big event and a solid weekend.”

The balloon festival took place last year beginning Aug. 19 at Loudy-Simpson followed a week later by the state barbecue tournament.

Planning committee members have asked to push the joint event up to the weekend of Aug. 3, which has created a unique problem.

Because both events are expecting to attract more people, a question has been raised on where the pilots can launch their balloons.

The only logical place is in Loudy-Simpson’s hay fields, Looper said.

But, Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers said using the hay field could pose a problem because the county has a lease agreement with resident Randy Sloan.

“It definitely poses a problem because we lease that hay to this guy (Sloan) and you can’t make hay grow faster than it wants to,” Mathers said. “I mean, you cut hay at a certain time. You don’t cut it early because you won’t get as much and meadow hay is usually the last to get cut anyway.”

Last year, Sloan hayed Aug. 15 in preparation for the balloon festival. This year, he would be asked to cut two weeks earlier on Aug. 1.

“We were anticipating having to cut it prior to the balloon festival, but now that it is being combined with the barbecue championships, which I think is a wonderful idea, we’re going to need to find out if our contractor and Lenny (Gillam) can make it happen,” commissioner Audrey Danner said. “Having attended both of these events last year, I’m really looking forward to this and I don’t see why we can’t work with you.”

Looper asked the commissioners to put the event at the top of its “to do” list because he has to finalize balloon applications and send them to pilots by the end of the month.

“Unlike typical government,” Mathers said, “we’ll fast-track this.”

In addition to combining the two events, Smith said this year there will be no charge to attend the balloon festival.

“The BBQ is looking to draw more cookers and we’re looking to draw more balloons,” Smith said. “I think it has the makings of a great event.”

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