At a special meeting on Aug. 26, the Palisade Tourism Advisory Board voted to keep some and to drop some marketing campaign expenses in this year’s budget.
It was a response to concerns expressed by the town trustees at a work session two weeks earlier about keeping expenses within budget in the face of a decline in lodging fee revenue in the first half of the year.
Juliann Adams, co-chair of the tourism board, noted that the trustees and the tourism board thought this year’s approximately $30,000 annual budget projection could be reduced to around $28,000.
Jean Tally, tourism board member and co-owner of the Wine Country Inn, said at the July 26 meeting that the decline in lodging fee revenues in the first two quarters of the year was tied to slow business at the hotel related to poor weather, among other reasons. Tally projected better revenues in this quarter.
The tourism board voted unanimously to move ahead with several marketing campaigns in the third and fourth quarters this year, while cutting some others, and deferring some to 2015.
Deferred were VisitDenver.com., Google Adwords, and Peach Festival promotion, while a listing with the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) was cut. However, Adams pointed out, the Palisade Chamber of Commerce receives a free CTO listing.
Red Hot Dirt Days
New funding for a campaign this year includes $1,000 toward the Red Hot Dirt Days. It was developed last year as a partnership between Colorado Tourism, the Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau, and the city of Fruita.
Red Hot Dirt Days is intended to increase the number of visitors during the “shoulder seasons,” late September through November, and in the spring, by offering package deals, Teri Cavanagh, chief executive officer of Cobb Marketing and Communications, reported to the board. Cobb is contracted by the Palisade tourism board.
“The objective is to showcase as much of the Grand Valley as possible and to help drive tourism dollars to those areas during a traditionally low tourism time,” she said in a report to the board.
New funding was also approved to support the French press visit, a contingent of four or five top European mountain bike writers and producers, who are also riders. Cavanagh said they represent premier European mountain biking media. They include four magazines, two websites, two social media networks, as well as feature story spreads, photography, video, and Epic TV.
Cavanagh reported that the European mountain biking group contacted Cobb to arrange a media tour. It will be held soon, the first or second week of September. Cobb is coordinating a valley-wide response including trail guides, food, lodging, and a videographer.
The visit means, “The Grand Valley gets exposure in Europe,” Cavanagh said. Members of the group are professional mountain bikers, who, in turn, will attract others, she added.
“We’ll arrange their itinerary to showcase Palisade,” Cavanagh said. “They want a Western experience,” she pointed out. The group will start in Palisade and spend four days in the valley. Tourism board members offered to host and provide activities for the visit.
Rondo Buecheler observed, “Europeans love the wild west,” and board members agreed.
Further marketing projects approved for this year include a Facebook campaign, a newsletter, a Press Room and “asset vault” to hold promotional materials for media requests.
Mayor Roger Granat said he “always likes to see the TAB board carry a contingency—you never know.” Board member Felix Iovanni agreed, and said, for example, Red Hot Dirt Days.
Granat also proposed that the tourism board “toot its own horn.” Granat said, “People around town don’t really understand what TAB does.” Buecheler agreed, and Tally pointed out that town sales tax revenue related to tourism amounts to considerably more than the lodging fee, which funds the TAB.
Cavanagh said, “A lot of people benefit from TAB.” She wondered, though, how funding might be increased, and asked how local agriculture organizations, including wine producers, might contribute. Tally noted that producers in California are expected contribute funds for tourism.
Tally said the only downside to including other groups to support tourism is they might want all the promotion to be about them. However, “We’ve always said it has to include everybody.” So, “It takes a lot of diligence.”
Peach Fest broke records
This year’s Peach Festival “broke records,” Adams, co-chair, reported. Adams, who is also executive director of the Palisade Chamber of Commerce, said more than 15,200 people visited Riverbend Park during the festival this month. The chamber sponsors the festival each year.
“Thank you very much,” for the work and the successful event, Buecheler told Adams. She said to the board and those who helped, “Thank you, everyone.”
“Nick was a delight,” Adams added, referring to Nick Babiak, who was the “Peach Festival King.” Nick is a Denver area youngster who this spring enthusiastically, but unsuccessfully, lobbied the state legislature for the Palisade peach to be named the state fruit.
Nick, who was10 years old at the time, met resistance, however, from farm organizations which raise other crops, including Rocky Ford cantaloupes. Babiak was mystified, according to reports, because cantaloupes aren’t even fruits; they’re vegetables –– a member of the squash family.
Nick received many peach mementos, including a peach packing box, a peach shirt, and he was given a tour. “I feel like it’s my birthday all over again,” he said, according to Adams.
Nick plans to promote Palisade peaches again, Adams said. “He wants to put it on the ballot!” Forget the legislators, he said. “I tell you,” Adams said, “If anyone could do it, this kid could do it.”
Fiber Arts and Quilting Festival
Adams said a Palisade Fiber Arts and Quilting Festival will be held Oct. 11, 12 at Memorial Park. Fiber arts and quilting used to be part of the Peach Festival in August, but it was too hot. “Fall makes more sense,” Adams said.
The one and three quarter hour board meeting was held at the Palisade Civic Center. Also attending the meeting was Ron Quarles, Palisade community development director. The board has been meeting monthly, the second Tuesday at noon at the Civic Center. The next meeting is set for Tuesday, Sept. 9, at noon.