by Marissa Lorenz
The Kremmling Area Chamber of Commerce (KACC) is excited for a return to in-person events in 2021, starting with the 24th Annual Wolford Mountain Reservoir Ice-Fishing Tournament to be held on February 20.
Additionally, Chamber staff continue to exercise their creative juices, brain-storming new ways to both engage the community and bring in revenue for the non-profit Chamber, such as a brand new ATV raffle for a 2021 Polaris Sportsman 570.
The past year has been a challenging one for many sectors, given the challenges and restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, which began impacting Colorado in March 2020. And that has been especially true in the commerce and tourism sectors, areas of primary responsibility for the KACC.
The mission of the Kremmling Chamber is “to support, promote, and empower local business growth.” It does this primarily through event organization that further bolsters tourism, helping to fill hotels, restaurants, and locally-owned retail businesses with patrons spending money.
But in a year where hotels, restaurants, and retailers have all been forced into mandated closures and severe customer restrictions, their business has been further impacted by constraints on travel and bans on events and gatherings.
In a normal year, the Chamber hosts the Wolford Ice-Fishing Tournament, a Cinco de Mayo celebration, Kremmling Days, the 4th of July Fire up the Cliffs, and the Chamber Banquet. It helps with such events as the Middle Park Fair and Rodeo and the Demolition Derby, all of which bring visitors and an influx of money to the town.
In recent years, the Chamber has expanded efforts to increase tourism, partnering with other local groups to bring skijoring and big-name music concerts to Kremmling. And it organizes multiple smaller events just to give back to the community, such as the Easter Egg Hunt at Cliffview.
But COVID-19 put a damper on event organizing in 2020. The Chamber had just held a successful Wolford Ice-Fishing tourney
when concerns of COVID-19 and subsequent government action meant that none of their other regularly-scheduled events could be held without notable modification.
An impromptu march replaced the Kremmling Days Parade. Fireworks were held without a community barbeque. A Diamond Rio concert was postponed.
While the Chamber team did continue to organize local community-building events–such as a socially-distanced Easter Egg Hunt, drive-in movie nights, and the Kremmling Square Scare–advertising and promoting events outside of the community was strongly prohibited. As a result, they have been limited in what they could do to increase revenue or commerce.
They have worked hard to do what they can for local businesses, working with the Grand Foundation to allocate the Small Business Emergency Grant fund, helping restaurants and retailers apply for Personal Protective Equipment grants, and now helping local business owners find resources for the Paycheck Protection Plan.
But Chamber Director Tara Sharp and Assistant Director Brittany VanderLinden are now looking forward to helping businesses in
a more traditional manner. The Wolford Ice-Fishing Contest will be the first major in-person event to take place in Kremmling in 2021.
A stipulation for permission to hold the event was online-only registration this year. Registration has been open since December, and VanderLinden notes that early registration is up compared to previous years. The goal is to have a similar number of participants as last year, which counted nearly 400 paid registrants and 34 unpaid youth participants.
A “naturally socially-distanced activity,” according to VanderLinden, this year’s tournament will otherwise look very similar to previous
years. Contestants will fish on their own and provide significant catches to judges for measuring and recording. The grand prize is a guaranteed $2,500 for the first tagged fish recorded, and other cash prizes range from $75 to $1,200.
To minimize congregating, there will be no formal awards ceremony. Cash prize winners will be posted online, and winners can pick up their checks that afternoon at the Chamber building.
A raffle will be held the day of the event. Raffle prizes can be picked up on the ice and include an ice auger, ice shelter, fishing rod, utility sled, Camelbak backpack, bait bucket, Yeti tumbler, and Carhartt insulated gloves.
Sponsors of the Ice-Fishing tournament include Colorado Parks & Wildlife, Middle Park Health, Alpine Motor Sports, Blue Valley Ranch, Muddy Creek Cabins, the Allington Inn, the Grand County Tourism Board, and the Grand Gazette.
Separate raffle sales started this week for the 2021 ATV drawing, which will take place during Kremmling Days at the Fireman’s Supper. ATV Raffle Tickets are available online at 1/$20 or 3/$50.
The Chamber purchased the brand new, $8,500 Polaris Sportsman 570 with proceeds from last year’s Wolford Ice-Fishing raffle. It
was bought locally from Alpine Motor Sports, where it was custom assembled for the raffle event.
“In the past,” explains VanderLinden, “that money has been reused to purchase raffle prizes and to help pay for some of the smaller events throughout the year. But as we grow as a town, our goal is to start doing more for the community.”
To register for the 24th Annual Wolford Reservoir Ice-Fishing Tournament or purchase tickets for the ATV raffle, go to www. kremmlingchamber.com/events/calendar/. For updates on the tournament, including ice conditions, search for Wolford Reservoir Ice Fishing Tournament on Facebook.
To connect with theChamber about membership, other member benefits, or for assistance with the PPP loan process, go to kremmlingchamber. com or call 970-724-3472.