Craig Chamber moves to renovate long-faded ‘Welcome to Moffat County’ sign
Jennifer Holloway said it should be a symbol — and whether or not her organization’s plan comes to pass, it already is.
For those driving into Craig from the east, their biggest welcome hasn’t been exactly warm for some time now. Long-since faded, and even perhaps now earning the descriptor dilapidated, the “Welcome to Moffat County” sign on the south side of U.S. Highway 40 just east of town is in desperate need of renovation — and that’s just what the Craig Chamber of Commerce and Moffat County Visitor Center wants to do.
“We’re doing a call for artists to bid,” said Holloway, the executive director of the Craig Chamber of Commerce.
An artist interested in reviving the old sign by the gravel pit will be doing so on a 60-foot-by-35-foot canvas. The Chamber has a lease on the sign, which is owned by the owner of the gravel pit.
“The last artwork we put up there before my time,” Holloway said. “It was a vinyl print that we got out of a company from Grand Junction. We’re trying to do some real art this time.”
The vinyl wrap drooping, the colors barely recognizable after ages in the sun and snow, it’s been a goal of the Chamber for quite some time to rejuvenate the east-side welcome.
“We were going to do a fundraiser with some ads, but CDOT said it wasn’t quite in compliance to be sold that way, so we didn’t have the money at that time to replace it,” Holloway said. “Now we’ve been more aggressive with getting grant money, and with a partnership with Friends of the Yampa, we hope there’s some money there. We think it’s important. It’s the greeting coming into Craig, and if it looks nice, it’s a huge difference in how people see our town.”
Not to mention, Holloway said, the outside media sees it — and they make sure outside audiences see it, too.
“CNN used it when they interviewed (former hospital CEO) Andy (Daniels),” she said. “The Made if Moffat video those CU students made, it gets air time and it just looks bad. We think it’d be great to pop when you hit that hill to see a cool entryway sign.”
Between the Chamber’s increased focus on the Yampa River and the partnership on the sign’s renovation with Friends of the Yampa, part of the winning bid from whichever artist earns the job must include a focus on the river.
“It made sense to have that highlighted,” Holloway said. “For agriculture, tourism, and for anyone who wants to live here, it’s a good symbol.”
The hope, Holloway said, is to get somebody working on the new sign by the summer. Whether an artist chooses to paint directly on-site or create panels in a shop that are then installed on the location, Holloway is agnostic.
“That’s how Israel would do it,” Holloway said of the panels approach, referencing her husband, famed artist Israel Holloway, who painted the famous massive watercolor hanging in the main hall of the Museum of Northwest Colorado in Craig. Holloway acknowledged it was possible her husband could bid for the job, but said he was unsure at the time if it was within his near-term capacity.
A committee of Chamber board members will make the decisions once bids are submitted.
But, Holloway noted, it’s possible the board will seek the opinion of the people of Moffat County before making a final decision.
“I imagine they’ll want input, and my guess is — unless there was one that is so obvious and everybody loved and had the best price and was the most feasible — my guess is we’d have a couple or more that they’d get input and people’s feedback on,” Holloway said.
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