by Marissa Lorenz
The Town of Hot Sulphur recently announced the cancellation of their annual Hot Sulphur Days event, normally occurring in early June, with hopes of rescheduling later in the summer. The Winter Park and Fraser Chamber of Commerce is cancelling music and other events into July. But with businesses having been closed for weeks under the Colorado Stay-at-Home and other executive orders and summer events continuing to be cancelled and postponed, the Kremmling Area Chamber of Commerce has remained busy on behalf of member businesses and the town.
The Chamber has spent the entirety of the COVID-19 pandemic trying to come up with safe ways to promote business and community. They hosted a social-distancing Easter egg hunt. They brought the Easter bunny around town to bring joy and cheer. They are trying to organize
a Drive-In Movie night. They have been busy with the county’s Business Economic Recovery Team (BERT). And they have been participating in committee to distribute funds through the Grand Foundation’s Small Business Emergency Grant.
However, heading into summer with so much uncertainty has left the Kremmling Chamber with many decisions to make as well. About three weeks ago, the Grand County Tourism Board contacted all chambers and asked that awarded monies be returned for all cancelled events. The Tourism Board is funded through lodging taxes and, in turn, funds marketing by area chambers and events to “fill beds” throughout our numerous tourist seasons. They awarded the Kremmling Chamber $33,000 for 2020 events and marketing, $10,000 more than had ever been awarded in previous years.
“[The Tourism Board] was really excited about the things that have been happening in Kremmling,” explains Tara Sharp, Executive Director of the Kremmling Area Chamber of Commerce. “They are such amazing partners. They really want to support our recent initiatives. This was a really hard decision for them.”
So far, the Chamber has not cancelled any events. The current Colorado State Safer-at-Home initiative still limits gatherings to 10 people or less and extends through May 26, and the majority of the Kremmling’s large Chamber events take place in the summer months, including Kremmling Days, Fire up the Cliffs, and the Demolition Derby. The Wolford Reservoir Ice Fishing Contest was successfully held in February, prior to COVID interruptions.
Sharp indicates that she is in regular contact with the Grand County COVID Incident Management Team (IMT) about what upcoming orders may hold. Their most recent conversations have requested that the Chamber wait until nearer the May 26 date, by which time the State would be expected to provide guidance for the summer season. Fortunately, says Sharp, the Chamber is not on the hook for any deposits or payments for planned events. “Everyone has been so understanding and very gracious” she states. “Kremmling Days’ band, AM Whiskey, is not asking us for deposits. And while we’re encouraging vendors to still apply, we’re holding checks in case of cancellation.”
Sharp states that June 1 is a hard deadline on decisions for the June 19 and 20 event. “We have to let people know by then at the very latest.” And she remains excited for later events, the Fourth of July fireworks event and the second annual Kremmling Country Music Concert, to be headlined by Diamond Rio on August 29.
She is very positive about the Small Business Emergency Grant fund, being managed and distributed by the Grand Foundation. She sits on the granting committee, along with the other area chamber directors and Grand Foundation Executive Director, Megan Ledin. “We have awarded nearly $33,000 to Kremmling area businesses and have never allocated $0 to any Kremmling business application. I am very pleased with that and glad to be able to advocate for our businesses” Sharp enthuses.
Ledin reports that, as of a fourth round of funding decisions on Tuesday, May 5, the grant has received $540,000 in donations, $15,000 from Kremmling, $25,000 from Grand Lake, $50,000 from Granby, and $100,000 each from Fraser, Winter Park, and Grand County. Other contributions from such as Mountain Parks Electric and the Grand Foundation have totaled $150,000. The committee has awarded $496,547, with $32,888 going to Kremmling area businesses. A remaining $43,450.12 is earmarked for utility assistance only.
by Marissa Lorenz