Wednesday, August 30, 2000
Steamboat Springs Two years have passed since vintage race cars roared out of Steamboat's Labor Day celebration and an eclectic mixture of jazz music and ornery rodeo bulls seems to be securely entrenched in their place.
Last year's Bud Light Steamboat Springs Professional Bull Riding Classic drew more than 4,000 spectators to the arena at Howelsen. The successful rodeo event is back for its third year in 2000 with 57 bulls to keep the cowboys busy.
The fusion jazz group the Rippingtons entertained Labor Day crowds at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area last year and that theme will be repeated when Maceo Parker, former band leader and saxophonist for James Brown, brings his simmering funk to the outdoor amphitheater for a free show.
The word "vintage" hasn't entirely disappeared from Steamboat's labor Day vocabulary, as the Vintage Airplane Fly-In expands to two days at Bob Adams Field.
Saturday, Sept. 2 Vintage Fly-In 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Bob Adams Field. Free to the public. Maceo Parker in a free concert on Headwall at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area. Sunday, Sept. 3 Vintage Fly-In 9 a.m. until noon Pro Bull Riding Classic at 2 p.m. at Romick Arena. Ticket prices range from no charge for children 6 and younger; $5 for older children; general admission: $12 in advance and $15 at the gate; reserved seating for children 7-15, $15; and reserved seating for adults $20 in advance and $25 at the gate. Force three-on-three soccer tournament Sept. 2-4, hosted by the Fort Collins Force Elite women's soccer team at fields around Steamboat.
In addition to the familiar events, there is a new three-on-three soccer tournament that will bring players from around the state.
Judy Wiesner, marketing director of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, said there's a method to the smorgasbord approach to Steamboat's Labor Day celebration each of the diverse events seems to feed the others.
"I was very surprised at the number of people who turned out for the Vintage Fly-in last year," Wiesner said. "We thought, 'Oh you know, this will be fun.' But the crowd was huge, we estimated it at 3,000 people."
The combination of the Vintage Fly-In, projected to have 22 aircraft this year, the pro bull riding event and the free concert make Steamboat a more appealing weekend destination, Wiesner added.
Chamber Executive Vice President Sandy Evans Hall said she is hoping that the addition of the Force 3v3 Soccer Tournament Sept. 2-4 will boost the number of Labor Day visitors staying overnight in Steamboat. The rodeo tends to attract a significant number of people who drive in from regional cities and return home that night, Evans Hall said.. The multiday soccer tournament could counteract that tendency, she predicted.
Wiesner said she would be pleased if early projections turn out to be correct and the resort's lodging properties are 80 to 90 percent full over the weekend as they were last year. But she said even at those occupancy levels, Steamboat's "new" Labor Day weekend can't match the economic impact of the Vintage Auto Races. That's because last year's Labor Day tourists didn't stay for as long a time as the vintage racers.
"That's the problem we're running into," Wiesner said. "It's the carry-into (the weekend) the vintage auto people came up on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Last year's crowd came on Friday."
Wiesner said she had a budget of $7,000 to $8,000 to promote Labor Day weekend in Steamboat on the Front Range. She advertised in both the Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post, but felt she was particularly successful with the News.
"We got great deals with the Rocky," Wiesner said.
Wiesner explained that the News was named a co-sponsor and used radio spots it has purchased in advance with 30 stations to run 15-second spots that promoted Steamboat and directed listeners to the newspaper for details.