Early summer season attendance figures at the Snowmass Village Rodeo have not been kicking as anticipated, leaving organizers looking at a projected $50,000 shortfall and in need of financial help.
The continued wet weather throughout the summer has been blamed as the main cause for a drop in early season numbers, although attendance rates at more recent events have increased slightly.
"The weather has an enormous effect," said Chris Kelly, executive director of Snowmass Western Heritage Association (SWHA), an organization that promotes Western culture and traditions, and which runs the outdoor rodeo. "When people see the clouds roll in and the weather is threatening, they don't want to move."
The rodeo has a capacity close to 2,000 spectators, and in the past two weeks crowds have ranged between 700 and 800.
Kelly also blamed certain higher-than-expected operating costs and expensive special events for creating the deficit.
Financial help is at hand though, in the form of a $50,000 loan that was approved by the Snowmass Village Marketing and Events Board on Wednesday. The board authorized the loan on the condition it is co-signed by the Town of Snowmass Village, which will cover the costs in the event rodeo organizers are unable to pay them back.
The rodeo has been running for 32 years in Snowmass and is currently held every Wednesday and Saturday from June through the end of August. It showcases a host of traditional Western activities, including bucking broncos, cowboy skills and quarter horse maneuvers.
Cowboys from all over Colorado, as well as some out of state riders, compete for a pot of prize money at each event.
Kelly said the rodeo costs $250,000-$300,000 to run for the summer. SWHA pays rent to the Town of Snowmass Village (which owns the rodeo grounds) and other expenses including insurance, which costs about $20,000 annually.
"A rodeo is an expensive proposition and relative to this market size it's always going to be a bit of a stretch," she said.
She added that there has been a good deal of support for the rodeo from local businesses in both Aspen and Snowmass, as they believe that the event results in greater numbers of visitors coming to the area.
Members of the Snowmass marketing board agreed, and said that the rodeo is an important element in the town's overall identity.