PUEBLO, Colo. (KRDO) -- Officials are proceeding with a 20-year, $180-million strategy to improve the annual state fair and fairgrounds, and make the fairgrounds more of a community gathering spot and year-round destination for events.
The following details about the plan were contained in a news release Tuesday:
The Colorado State Fair Board Authority began considering a master plan for the fairgrounds last summer, based on recommendations from Stantec, a Denver-based design firm hired by the Colorado State Architect and the Colorado Department of Agriculture.
"We've been working on this for five years, so it's pretty monumental," said Scott Stoller, the fair's general manager.
"The master plan was developed with input from the Pueblo community," the release states. "Through a series of board meetings, meetings with CSF staff and brainstorming sessions, the Stantec team sought input that guided the recommendations."
According to the release, the master plan is a major step forward in a long-running effort to increase attendance and generate more revenue, intended to guide future decisions by state and local officials and recommend how money should be spent over the next 20 years.
One of the changes outlined in the release is making physical upgrades to the fairgrounds to include the first new agricultural building since the 1960s, along with new infrastructure and programming intended to get more use out of the fairgrounds during the fair and throughout the year.
The master plan also would make the fairgrounds more efficient and self-sustaining by adding solar panels and other energy-saving measures, as well as planting more trees and other greenery.
As the release explains, trees currently cover less than 10% of the fairgrounds -- creating a "heat island" effect, making it grounds up to 15 degrees warmer than the surrounding area in summer.
"Trees and shade were the the top request in public feedback," Stoller said.
And in a nod to the fair's history dating back to its start in 1872, the master plan intends to reclaim the main avenue through the fairgrounds as a focal point by making it a regular community gathering place to include public plazas, more dining choices and increased flexibility for live music and other forms of entertainment.
Based on the strength of Colorado's agricultural industry, the plan calls for a new agricultural facility and removal of buildings that are smaller and less efficient while providing more modern technology and greater flexibility.
As part of the master plan, Stantec will help fair officials find local, state and federal funding to pay for the future improvements; fair officials will soon begin fundraising and design work for the first phase of improvements.
"We're looking at federal stimulus money or money from the transportation bill," said Nancy Locke, of Stantec. "It won't be enough to pay for all cost, but there are some buckets of money out there that the fair can look to. Investing in state fairs is something that a lot of states are doing.. Colorado's is less competitive than most state fairs."
David Madrid, Jr., has lived across the street from the fairgrounds for 30 years and said that he likes the master plan.
"I would like to see the fair go year-round, have other vendors come in, or other people to do things inside the fair," he said. "I'd also like to see the restrooms improved."