The Saratoga Sun -

Businesses ready for chariot crowd

 


The town of Saratoga will surely gain an economic boost during the 34th annual Donald E. Erickson Chariot Races this weekend.

Saratoga resident Rosemary Erickson said she was excited for another year of busyness during the big racing event, which was named after her husband, Don, who passed away in 1980. She said Don was very well-known in the community before his passing.

“We moved here in 1970 and had a corner drug store, and Don was active in the business community,” Erickson said. “He helped start the chamber of commerce, and he helped start the library board and was on the library board.”

Erickson said she was grateful for all the winter events the chamber presents to bring more people to town, and for all the time and efforts spent by volunteers.

“The chamber is always looking for activities to bring tourists and other people into the community, especially during the winter months,” she said. “Things like the fishing derby and other things bring people in during the winter months. I think the Chariot Races have been a really fun thing for a lot of teams that have been coming for years. Teams have come from all over the Mountain West.”

Stacy Crimmins, Executive Director for the Saratoga/Platte Valley Chamber of Commerce, said all of the town’s businesses, including those besides motels and restaurants, will likely see a boost from race attendants. She expects around 500 people to attend for both days, which is what she has seen in the past.

“The motels and restaurants will benefit directly, and it’s a trickle down benefit with the way the dollar turns over locally,” Crimmins said. “For example, the waitresses get better tips Saturday night, and can therefore buy extra groceries. Retail will also pick up around the race, and seasonal businesses that are not normally open in the winter are open for business. Businesses need to take advantage of those kind of weekends, because it’s a long winter for them.”

Crimmins said the event is not only good for Saratoga’s economy, but also builds positive public relations within the community. She said it also helps tourists realize how much the Valley has to offer, even during the wintertime.

“This is one more way of getting our name out there as a destination, and it’s good for people looking at the community to relocate,” Crimmins said. “It helps to show that we’re active year-round. There are plenty of activities and fun things to do here, and it’s a family-friendly place. We do hear from people that they’re surprised at how much goes on in our community.”

By checking license plates each year, Crimmins said she has seen people come from all over Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, North Dakota and Oregon, and even from eastern states such as Maryland and Florida. She said attendance has remained steady over the years, and never experienced a major drop.

“Tourism for the event has not declined in six years, and it’s still a well-attended event,” she said. “For out of state, we get a lot of Coloradoans. I’m always amazed by how many people come out.”

Crimmins said lower attendance than usual should definitely not be a problem this year. She mentioned that all the motels have been known to completely fill up with eager race watchers.

“Most people who stay at our motels make a reservation for next year before they check out,” Crimmins said. “Some years we’ve had to call people and ask them if people could stay in their houses. The restaurants also really do well, and we’ll have that banquet on Saturday night.”

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