On Tuesday, the Eagle County Board of Commissioners held a kick-off session for the development of a new master plan for the Eagle County Fairgrounds. Over the next five months, a steering committee of county officials will work closely with outside consultants to come up with a number of recommended plans to improve the fairgrounds.
It will be the first comprehensive master plan the county has developed for the property since 2006, when most goals had to be shelved due to the ensuing recession shortly after its completion. Facilities manager Jan Miller said the property needed an updated plan and the county was well positioned to undertake the changes.
“I think the time is right, and this project definitely supports the Board of County Commissioners’ strategic priorities for 2022-23, to encourage economic diversification,” Miller said.
The plan will be developed by design firm Populus in conjunction with Crossroads Consulting Services, which will conduct market assessments to determine the cost and feasibility of the plans. Populus previously worked with Eagle County on planning for the Eagle River Center in 2013.
The master plan will address a number of pre-identified priorities, such as expanding spectator seating at the Eagle County Fair & Rodeo.
“It’s been a request for years, and it will make the arena more attractive to other promoters who may want to put on different types of shows here,” Miller said.
The plan will also include a dedicated facility for 4-H displays away from the cattle at the rodeo.
Another proposal includes improving on-site camping infrastructure and creating official campsites for visitor use. The county is also looking to conduct a road infrastructure impact analysis and create an emergency traffic evacuation plan. All infrastructure and facilities developed will be done with sustainable practices in mind to support the county’s climate action goals.
County Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry has been closely involved with Fairgrounds and the County Fair and Rodeo since childhood, and said she looks forward to using the plan to bring Fairgrounds of Eagle County in the future.
“We are excited to begin the master plan process,” Chandler-Henry said. “The Fairgrounds is such an amenity for the people of Eagle County – it hosts the annual county fair and rodeo, and is used year-round by families, community organizations and as an event space. We look forward to working with our community residents, the Fair & Rodeo Advisory Board, 4-H families and other partners to make this amazing space the best it can be moving forward.
Community ideas and feedback will play an important role in the development of the master plan. Starting in June, the county will host in-person and online forums for community members to share what they want to see included in the new master plan.
Ideas of all kinds will be considered and the community will be an integral part of determining the future of the fairgrounds. The new master plan is designed as a collaborative process shaped by the uses and needs of the community. Stakeholders will also be contacted for feedback in the coming months.
The first in-person community engagement session is scheduled to take place on June 8. More specific information about the forum and other ways of community contribution will be posted later this month.
Once the master plan is developed, it will include a fully budgeted project schedule divided into phases, which can be executed at will in future years. The priority wish list of projects and their execution will be based on community input, cost, market dynamics and space needs.
Creating this plan is the first step towards building the fairground of the future. If there’s anything you’d like to see added or improved on the Eagle County Fairgrounds, bring your ideas to the community engagement sessions and maybe they will become a reality.