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ColorFest celebration takes a village

By Mary Jo Coulehan

SUN Columnist

Last week’s ColorFest celebration epitomized the saying, “It takes a village.”

This is a weekend that involves so many aspects of the community.

First, without the generosity of the lodging community, several events held during of the weekend would not be able to take place. Their willingness to assist the ballooning contingent and welcoming them back ensures the pilots return to Pagosa year after year. Thank you, lodgers!

Second, the Passport to Pagosa Wine and Food Festival would not be possible without contributions from the restaurant community. Even on this very busy weekend, numerous restaurants participate and run on-site and off-site facilities. This is very difficult, yet they do it with style, enthusiasm and fantastic food. We also had Nello’s and Bacci’s participating with special wine dinners. Thank you, restaurants!

Third, the Bands, Brews Blowout would not be possible without the participation of members of the micro-brewing community from the region. We will always be in competition with other brewery festivals at this time of year, yet representatives of micro-breweries arrive to provide their beers at this festival. Extra marketing and local assistance for liquor coordination and storage from Pagosa Brewing, Plaza Liquor and Alley House Grille is greatly appreciated (the Chamber doesn’t have the refrigeration space).

When it comes to marketing, special thanks go to The Pagosa Springs SUN and KWUF for pre-event and event coverage and to the Town Tourism Committee for funding to market outside Pagosa Springs and attract visitors.

Finally, most events are labor intensive — and workers are the key. We would not be able to do all the work without the assistance from people who volunteer to decorate, set up the park, work the event and perform many other, little duties. Members of the Chamber board of directors certainly put in their time. Most importantly, the staff at the Chamber put in a 40-hour work week in just a few days. A more dedicated, loyal and hard-working staff is hard to find, and without their help, nothing would happen.

And then there are the people who attend the events. Without their support, compliments and comments on ways to improve, we would not be able to grow our celebration. We hope that our out-of-town attendees will continue to plan their vacations to Pagosa to coincide with this fun weekend.

We would like to congratulate some of the winners from this year’s food and beverage events.

Sweeping many of the food categories on Friday night was Old Town Market celebrating its one-year anniversary in business. It’s so much more than a market. Old Town Market won the Best Presentation/Most Colorful category, the Most Flavorful category and the Best Decorated Station, and they tied for the Most Original category for their smoked salmon pasta.

Salmon must have been a hit with the judges with Farrago Market Cafe the runner up for Most Flavorful, Best Presentation and Most Original with its grilled salmon tacos with mango cream sauce. The noteworthy People’s Choice award went to Alley House Grille for its delicious braised lamb shank with smoked tomato demi-glace, and crème fraiche and goat cheese polenta. Congratulations also to Plaza Grille for winning the Best Sweet with the New York strawberry cheesecake and for tying for first place in the Most Original category with the red wine duck with mashed cauliflower. We also want to congratulate Coyote Moon Bar and Grill for winning runner-up in two categories: the decadent Coyote Moon Pie for Best Sweet and the People Choice award with jalapeno beef tip salad. Ajia was runner-up for Best Decorated Station. Pagosa Brewing Company also had rave reviews for its cream of roasted jalapeno soup and the Pines Restaurant for its delicious crab cakes.

I don’t think there was a bad entry out there and the food judges are still cursing me for insisting that they make these hard decisions.

Thank you, Pagosa Springs, for yet another successful “village” effort.

Business acumen

In upcoming months, there will be several opportunities for business owners to improve and enhance their skills.

Marketing for Smarties is a program for entrepreneurs with goals. It is offered by the Fort Lewis College SBDC and presented by a certified coach, Marcy Mitchell. The course begins Wednesday, Oct. 3, and continues for two more sessions — Wednesday, Oct. 24, and Wednesday, Nov. 14. Classes will be held in the Chamber of Commerce conference room from 6 to 9 p.m. The cost of the course is $149 and includes all materials. There will be scholarships available. This course will help you identify a marketing niche for your business, show you how to target your marketing to increase sales, and teach you how to attract new customers. It will take you step by step through a simple, straightforward development program with hands-on tools and tons of class and peer interaction. To register for the class, call Lynn Asano at Fort Lewis College at 247-7009 or e-mail her at asano_l@fortlewis.edu

The fifth annual Colorado Entrepreneurship Marketplace will be held in Pueblo Colorado on Friday, Oct. 5. Last year, Pagosa Springs played host to this statewide conference, bringing multiple educational tracks and inspiring speakers to town. One of last year’s keynote speakers, Mikal Belicove, will address this year’s congregation and will be one of the session’s presenters. He got rave reviews from the attendees last year. Thanks go to a local business owner, Lois Higgins, for introducing Mikal to Pagosa and encouraging him to speak last year. Attendees will be wowed by Mikal’s simple, yet forceful message to business owners and his instructions on utilizing social marketing techniques. There will also be sessions on “crowd funding,” how to apply for government contracts, various resources for funding or applying for grants, how to use your smart-phone to enhance your time and business, how to choose a site for your business and even the art of doing art in your community. There will be over 25 sessions in areas such as agriculture, marketing, technology, finance and business development — all meant to give you insights into how to improve your business. With Pueblo being fairly close to Pagosa, it will be easy for a business owner to attend. The cost is $30 for the full day, including breakfast and lunch. To register, go to www.ruralcolorado.org/Colorado-Entrepreneurship-Marketplace

Maximizing membership

A class will be held Monday, Sept. 24, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. This is a free class offered to all business owners or managers explaining how the Chamber benefits and amenities can help your business. Jan Santopietro, membership coordinator, will take you through the member advantages, and there will be time to ask questions and understand what your Chamber membership can do for you. Please contact the Chamber to reserve your space, allowing us to order enough lunch. You can reserve your spot by calling 264-2360, or e-mail Jan at admin@pagosachamber.com.

Membership news

Congratulations to Dr. Gerlinde Ehni and Dental Arts for 20 years of service in Pagosa Springs. We hope she will be with us another 20 years!

We have two members renewing this week: Alco Stores Inc. and Avjet Corporation.

This story was posted on September 13, 2012.