SILVERTHORNE " Rain is slowly bleeding the Mountain Community Fair to its grave.
Fair officials won't know for several weeks exactly what sort of financial conundrum they're in, but the three-day event last weekend didn't bring the crowds organizers had hoped for. And if the numbers aren't positive, it could mean Summit County's seen its last fair.
"If we were to get three good days of sun, it wouldn't be a problem," said fair board member Ann Lindsey, who handles accounting. "We are lucky if we break even. We'll just have to wait and see."
Saturday traditionally fetches the most attendees if the weather is good. But a dark cloud rolled in several hours before the rodeo, and what was looking to be the fair's biggest day became its worst.
"Saturday, of course, was not great," said Ellen Siegel, president of the fair's board. "That was because of the weather; we got rained out.
But there's nothing you can do about that. I think we'll lose a little money, but not as much as last year."
Lindsey estimates that between 2,500 and 3,000 people attended the event.
Summit County Commissioner Tom Long has seen the fair wade through financial problems for years. He agrees that rain has been the constant in sucking money from the event.
"It's been through sheer will power from both past and present that's kept (the fair) alive," Long said. "I don't know what the answer is.
Obviously you can't lose money and continue doing it. They're good people (on the fair's board)."
Despite the grim financial picture, Siegel is planning on a 2006 Mountain Community Fair, but with a few modifications.
Something has to be done about the music, Siegel said. She had expected more attendees would remain at the fairgrounds in Silverthorne to hear the band after the rodeo. But the turnout was far less than she expected. She doesn't want to kill live music altogether, but she's looking for a different way to showcase it.
Merchandise vendors not tied to the western theme of the event are out, she said. There wasn't much business for vendors that lacked the western theme and Siegel doesn't see the point in pursuing an aspect of the event that attendees showed little interest in.
"'Cause everyone came when the rodeo was gonna go," Siegel said.
"If they really wanted to spend money on vendors, they would have come early and shopped."
Mat Keith, the rodeo's announcer, has noticed a steady decline of rodeos in the region. For the Mountain Community Fair to cease to operate, he said, would be another blow to the way of the life for professional cowboys.
"As far as I'm concerned, the life and times of a cowboy is a dying breed," Keith said after Sunday afternoon's rodeo. "This is how we make a living. (Rodeos are) not like they used to be."
Chris Kornelis can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 216, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.