Greeley Stampede wraps up and moves on | TheFencePost.com

Greeley Stampede wraps up and moves on

Bridgett Weaver

The hard clank of hammers, the beeping of heavy machinery and the sound of a shovel scraping filled the air July 5 at the Island Grove Regional Park.

The Greeley Stampede, which brought at least 200,000 people to Island Grove between June 23 and July 4, is over.

Carnies worked to tear down game booths and empty rides. Across the park, a few stragglers remained to tear down their food and retail booths. By Tuesday afternoon, most were already on the road to their next stop.

For Cheryl's Cajun Chicken, the next stop is Grand Junction for the Mesa County Fair. The owners of the Lakeview, Texas, food company spend their summers in Colorado. It's supposed to be cooler up this way, they said.

Owner Cheryl Wiggins said she was really happy with how the Greeley Stampede went this year.

"It's not quite as good as it was for a couple years, but I'm quite pleased," Wiggins said. Wiggins worked mostly with Ray Esola, who is the Stampede's vendor coordinator. "All I'm going to say is Roy worked his butt off trying to make it the best it can be," she said. "Greeley's one of my favorite spots."

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Patty Gates, Stampede Committee chairwoman, said event organizers also were pleased.

"The overall event, we really feel positive about," she said.

She said they only encountered one major weather event with the Friday downpour before the sold-out Thomas Rhett concert, which did not end in a cancellation.

The Stampede sold out three of its concerts this year, including Rhett, Lady Antebellum and Chris Young.

Some vendors provided suggestions for the committee on how to make improvements for next year, which Gates said they're taking into consideration.

Shelli Carpenter, an indoor shopping vendor working with Blue Quail Designs out of Texas, was one of them.

Blue Quail Designs sells turquoise jewelry and Western art and opened a third booth this year to support the art side.

Carpenter said she was happy with her sales this year, which were up from last year, but she still had a few ideas for improvements, including moving a few vendors outside to attract people indoors, even if she prefers to be indoors. Whether the vendors should be indoors or outdoors is always an issue at the Stampede.

Even so, Carpenter said she will be back next year.

"The rent and booth space price is very reasonable," she said. "So far, they're keeping it reasonable enough to take the risk."

Wes Ballew, who ran a carnival game for TC Concessions from San Antonio, Texas, said he thought people spent more money this year than in previous years.

"We were up in all categories, I believe," he said. "The amount of people seemed about the same, just people were spending more."

Ballew and his crew are heading to Cheyenne next, but he said they always do well in Greeley. "Each year we outdo the year before — that's our goal."

He said they like to treat their customers well to break the "carny stigma."

"We're trying to destroy that stigma of carnies that we're here to steal your money," he said. "We love to give out prizes. When you see that joy in kids' faces, we love that. Even if they didn't win, I let them win." ❖

Stampede numbers

The official Greeley Stampede attendance numbers won’t be available until later this month, but Board Chairwoman Patty Gates said she expects the number of attendees will be close to, if not more than, last year’s, which was 228,500.