Variety of visitors coming

Pro bull riding event drawing tourists in

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— One standard measurement of Steamboat's resort economy indicates weekend tourism might be down. But the "hat factor" says Sunday's Rockin' Roundup Pro Bull Riding Classic will draw from a broad spectrum of visitors.

"You should see some of these hats we've been shaping up this week," Bill Montag said. "They must come from New York City. They have flowers on them. It's wonderful. It's not just a Western crowd at the PBR."

Montag works at Soda Creek Mercantile, where the staff is accustomed to steaming and shaping Western-style Stetsons and Resistols. He also serves on the organizing committee for the pro bull riding event.

Montag says ticket sales are on pace to be well ahead of last year.

"We've sold between 400 and 500 so far," Montag said. "That's way ahead of last year. We've sold a lot to second-home owners."

Sunday's festivities begin with a free concert at 3:30 p.m. at Howelsen Hill. The headliner is the Marshall Tucker Band. The pro bull riding event follows at about 7 p.m.

The number of second-home owners in town could explain why bull riding ticket sales are trending upward while the Chamber Resort Association's Lodging Barometer is trending downward.

The barometer is not a scientific survey but a sampling of lodging properties intended to give business managers a feel for the staffing levels they will need during the coming weekend.

The barometer foresees 6,550 visitors will spend the night here Saturday. That compares to 8,128 on the corresponding summer last year.

Chamber spokeswoman Susan Ghysels said this weekend may signal the last big hurrah of the summer tourism season; the barometer forecasts the number of visitors in town Wednesday night will drop to 1,623. The early projection for Saturday, Sept. 7, is for 3,450 visitors to spend the night. That number has time to move upward and will need to in order to match the 2001 barometer forecast of 6,000 visitors on Saturday, Sept. 9.

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