PUEBLO — The Colorado State Fair is back this year, after being postponed due to COVID-19, fairgoers shouldn't get too comfortable with the way it looks now. The State Fair recently unveiled a $200 million five-year Master Plan to revitalize the fair, and propel it into the future.
Organizers also say that the plan is meant to be an economic investment in Pueblo and southern Colorado, they believe the changes to the fair will attract other large events to the area
The new changes have had some avid fairgoers concerned about the fair losing some of its longtime traditions, such as moving the old rodeo arena to make way for a large indoor exhibition hall. However, organizers say they took those concerns into consideration when designing the master plan.
"We don't want to lose sight of our history and the DNA and the bones, just the culture of this facility," said Colorado State Fair General Manager Scott Stoller.
Some of the decisions were made due to findings that are outlined in the Master Plan. The research was able to show which attractions should be prioritized based on "market demand potential" and "event programming opportunities." They found that things like festivals and outdoor expos had a high market demand potential whereas events like rodeo, bull riding, and sports entertainment had low market demand potential.
Right now Phase 1 of the Master Plan is in action, which is to turn blighted asphalt slabs into gathering areas with gardens and pathways. Fundraising has also begun for a $15 million upgrade to the livestock pavilion. Each phase is on a 15-year timeline, depending on if funds are secured.
Another big focus of the fair is on community connection. A big part of doing this is redesigning the center of the fair. This includes making way for a wayfinding area and a main street which will have paths with art, tree canopies, storefront sitting areas, ponds, and gardens.
Another focus is on food at the fair, which includes making a new Colorado Fair Food Plaza. The plaza will include things like a beer garden and a performance stage, along with spots for vendors.
However, despite all of the changes ahead, organizers the elements that make up the core of the fair will stay the same.
"Meant to keep a lot of pieces in place, but also add some new exciting features to the fairgrounds," said Stoller.