Old Colorado City merchants who have complained for years about competition from the summer craft fair held on Saturdays in Bancroft Park finally got their way this week.
Paul Butcher, director of the city's Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services department, announced that the bazaar of homemade clothing, cookies and local non-profit charity booths will be limited to three or four Saturdays next summer.
That's down from 12 Saturdays this year.
"The city is pushing us out," says Jackson Ivey, who has the organized fair for the last three years. He delivered a petition with approximately 800 signatures supporting the fair's survival to City Hall.
However, many Old Colorado City store merchants have been frustrated with fair vendors selling goods similar to theirs without paying property taxes or overhead costs.
The move confines the craft fair's use of the 1.7-acre park on West Colorado Avenue to the last Saturday of each summer month.
"It's a good compromise," says Nancy Stovall, president of the Old Colorado City Associates, a group representing more than 100 west side merchants.
"It's not against the crafters," says City Councilman Jerry Heimlicher, who has championed the campaign to limit the craft fair. "This is about the park that the citizens expect to be available to them, and the merchants who want their livelihoods."
Ivey scoffed at the city's simultaneous decision to raise daily park rental fees in Bancroft Park next year from $75 to $200.
Butcher says the raise in rental fees merely brings Bancroft's fee to the same level as that of other city parks. In effect, the city used to subsidize events in the park.
Some west side shoppers expressed disappointment with the city's actions. "Everybody has the right to come and sell their things," says Bobbie Montero. "It provides a benefit and a joy to people."
"I see both sides of it," says Doug Manyik, owner of the Buffalo Ridge Trading Post souvenir shop near Bancroft. "I have overhead. I have lights. I have rent.
"There's got to be a compromise. Both sides can be pig-headed."
-- Dan Wilcock
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