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Colorado's State Fair: Hot and Chili

10/16/2015

By Linda Van Slyke

Photo courtesy of COSF Facebook

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Pueblo, longtime home of Colorado's State Fair, is often hot by day and chilly by night.  Nevertheless, this locale has a reputation for being "Chili" all day, every day.

Southeastern Colorado 
The Pueblo region is approximately 110 miles south of Denver's "Rocky Mountain High."  Wikipedia explains that the Pueblo area "is considered to be semi-arid desert land," with only about 12 inches of precipitation per year.

Pueblo.org states that "the growing conditions in Southeastern Colorado render some of the best chili available."  These ideal conditions include "hot, dry, sunny summer days" in conjunction with "rich soils and pure Colorado water."

Put it all together, and what do you get?  PuebloPhoto By COSF Facebook Chili:  "attracting chili aficionados' attention from around the world."  These pungent staples of the region can be found in everything from salsa to salami.  And, of course, they are found in abundance at the Colorado State Fair.  Dani Griffith-Traweek, Event Marketing & Sponsorship Director, explains that fair vendors  "incorporate Pueblo chilies into all sorts of menu offerings.  They add spicy delight to wraps, pizza, deep-fried foods, etc."

Griffith-Traweek added, "Actually our region is known for all kinds of fresh fruit and veggies.  Our local listings reveal one produce farm after another right nearby the fairgrounds."  "Pueblo itself has so much to offer tourists.  There's the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk, the Nature and Raptor Center, the City Park Zoo, the Steelworks Museum, and the Center for American Values (honoring Medal of Honor recipients)."  

Pueblo has had four such brave honorees, causing President Eisenhower to once exclaim, "What is it in the water out there in Pueblo... all you guys turn out to be heroes."  The city has therefore come to be known as the Home of Heroes.

Promotions Heighten Emotions 
Getting the word out about Pueblo's annual highlight, Colorado's State Fair, is a multifaceted endeavor.  Griffith-Traweek reported, "We had a great fair this year.  We cracked the 500,000 mark, up a bit from last year.  Although we're still figuring expenses and bottom-line stuff, our numbers are looking real good for 2015."

"We've expanded our advertising budget some, and have reached into the Colorado Springs market.  We have a great partnership with almost every media outlet in Southern Colorado.  We're also extremely active in social media."

The fair's website lists the following creative promotions:  Enjoy a Coke, Enjoy Your Day at the Fair ($2-off-gate-admission coupons were on the necks of two-liter bottles sold in local stores),  Loaf 'N Jug Discount Days ($5 gate-admission coupons available at local Loaf 'N Jug stores),  Colorado Springs Day (BOGO admission coupons posted on the Colorado Springs Business  Alliance website), and the Colorado State Fair Mega Ride Pass ($95 buys free gate admission plus an all-you-can-ride carnival pass covering all 11 fair days). 

Griffith-Traweek added, "Folks within an 80-mile radius are taking the most advantage of these deals.  We also wrap the school districts into our promotions, which they welcome.  They give us totals regarding how many students we should offer discounts to."

All this vigorous marketing stokes the flames of public enthusiasm for the fair.  Griffith-Traweek  stated, "Gate money has been substantial, and that contributes a lot to our overall funds.  We also  receive half-a-million dollars in sponsorships, and another $400,000 from commercial exhibits."  "We're actually a division of the Department of Agriculture for the State of Colorado.  We've received funding from a percentage of the unclaimed property tax, plus some ag-management monies."
"We also received $300,000 from the state last year, and $500,000 the previous year, for 4-H and FFA programming.  We're working with the City and County of Pueblo regarding help with some capital construction projects, as well."

"One of our major goals right now is to bring our livestock pavilion up to date.  We're looking to put in a new floor and fix the outlying pens.  We're also looking at fixing up the grandstand and investing in our horse-show area."

Mountains of Fun 
With the fabulous Rockies just down the road, it's only fitting that Colorado's State Fair offers mountains of fun.  The 2015 Entertainment Lineup included such acts as Three Days Grace with special guest Black Stone Cherry, Terry Fator of America's Got Talent, Jake Owen, Los Rieleros del Norte, Los Lonely Boys, and the Born to be Wild Tour with former members of Steppenwolf and Pegasus.

For those who like their "heavy metal" in machinery, there was plenty of that to go around.  The Toughest Monster Truck Tour took place two nights in a row.  In addition to the "best and baddest monster trucks in the nation," it featured "a giant fire-breathing mechanical dinosaur."

The Demolition Derby and Pueblo Thunder in the Mud rounded out the "big toy" excitement.  As for original "horsepower," Ranch Rodeo and Calcutta provided quite the display.  Teams were auctioned off, and proceeds were used both for prize money and for contributions to the Colorado State Fair Foundation.

Going Green
In order to help preserve Colorado's famous hills and valleys, the State Fair maintains a solid commitment to "Going Green."  There were several available recycling stations on the grounds,  which were purchased with "funds from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment's Recycling Resources Economic Opportunity grant program."

Exhibitors, vendors and visitors alike were encouraged to utilize these stations in order to recycle materials such as "plastic and aluminum beverage containers," cardboard, manure, cooking oil, animal bedding, paper and glass.

Fair personnel estimate that "over 400 tons" of recyclable materials have been collected in this manner since 2011.  The website explains, "That's 300 tons less garbage going to landfills!"    

If you forgot sunscreen or diapers while at the Fair, there was no need to travel far on fossil fuel.  Right there on the grounds was the Colorado State Fair General Store, "featuring Colorado Proud  products."  These included such items as organic soaps and lotions, granola snacks, towels (for  the fun fountain"), lip balm, and even doggie treats. 

Green Chili was also right there on the shelves, making Colorado Proud each and every day. 

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