Matt Windt: An improved event | SteamboatToday.com

Matt Windt: An improved event

Matt Windt

— What a wild two weeks it has been. I enjoyed another beautiful Fourth of July, a parade, fireworks, a cattle drive, the rodeo, Art in the Park and, yes, the 27th annual Hot Air Balloon Rodeo presented by Bank of the West. This year was different for me because, for the first time, I wasn’t sitting there as a spectator. I was driving to the event early in the morning to set up, lead, watch and learn.

I had spent six months thinking about the how and the what ifs. Planning, asking, learning, visualizing, measuring and deciding. The goal: to find a new home for the Hot Air Balloon Rodeo.

We looked at various locations, transportation factors, parking options, landowner relations, wind and weather patterns. We looked at everything and couldn’t find a location that offered what we had at the Wildhorse Meadows property. In February, it was Ed MacArthur who came to the Chamber and volunteered his Bald Eagle Lake property as a home for the event. Even then, we had our doubts, but it was our best option and one I thought we could work with. Sure, access would be difficult, the launch field would be small, parking and transportation would be a challenge, but these were lesser evils at Bald Eagle Lake than any other site given the event shares the weekend with Art in the Park.

When I look back at the week that was, I found it very difficult to hear past the “Why did you do this :?” and “You should do that :” and “This didn’t work:” to hear the voice at the far end of the room saying, “I can’t believe after 15 years the Hot Air Balloon Rodeo has changed locations again, and it’s still the most popular summer event in Steamboat Springs.” I have to agree. With everything that is changing around us, isn’t it amazing that this colorful tradition is still a part of our community?

It will take another year to iron out the kinks and make improvements, but give us a chance. Sure the property has limitations, but it has opportunities as well. The photographs of the balloons with the reflection in the lake were stunning. The extended, phased inflation and lift off allowed for almost two hours of close-up engagement of the crowd. And the lake will provide opportunities for ski jumping and water skiing exhibitions. For 2008, look for improved parking and transportation, field improvements and much more. The challenges we faced this year are opportunities for the future, and I hope you will join the Chamber again in 2008 at Bald Eagle Lake for the 28th annual Hot Air Balloon Rodeo.

I would like to thank all the partners that helped with this event: Ed MacArthur for the use of his land, the Colorado Department of Transportation for help along U.S. Highway 40, the Routt County Sheriff’s Office for its help with traffic, the city of Steamboat Springs for providing shuttle service, Alpine Taxi for its help with shuttle service, all the lodging properties that helped shuttle their guests to the site, the baseball team, Boy Scouts, tennis team and John Aragon for their help with setup, trash pickup and parking. A big thanks to the Balloon Rodeo Committee, the sponsors, the 40 pilots who enjoyed our new site and all the other volunteers who got up in the wee hours of the morning to help make this event happen.

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See you all next year.

Matt Windt

Special Events Director, Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association