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Silverton cancels its famed Fourth of July celebration

Decision falls in line with other Southwest Colorado communities
Event organizers have canceled Silverton’s Fourth of July celebration, citing financial difficulties.

Silverton has canceled its famed Fourth of July celebration, event organizers announced Friday.

DeAnne Gallegos, director of the Silverton Area Chamber of Commerce, said financial difficulties led to the cancellation of the small mountain town’s most popular summer event.

Normally, it costs about $70,000 to put on the Fourth of July celebration, which includes a massive fireworks show, a carnival, street parade and a temporary campground set up in town.

While the town of Silverton provides $15,000 and infrastructure at no cost, the rest of the money is funded by local businesses and private donors.

This year, with the economic challenges surrounding the coronavirus shutdown, event organizers were unable to raise enough money to hold the event.

“In these troubling economic times, it’s difficult for a private business owner to extend that resource out to our community when they have no idea what their economy will look like this summer,” Gallegos said.

And even with the budget shortfall, Gallegos said it would be a huge financial risk to invest in the event while not knowing whether a future public health order could prohibit such a large gathering.

“For an event that’s so expensive and time consuming to plan, it’s not fiscally responsible to continue ahead with the unknown landscape ahead of us,” she said.

The decision to cancel the event falls in line with other communities around the region, including Bayfield and Telluride. Ouray City Council is expected to cancel that town’s event on Monday, according to the Ouray County Plaindealer.

Durango Mayor Dean Brookie said no decision about the city’s Fourth of July events had been made as of Friday, but it’s likely the event will be canceled, too.

Silverton’s Fourth of July is by far the biggest tourist draw for the small mountain community, bringing in thousands of visitors to celebrate and watch the fireworks show, one of the biggest on the Western Slope.

In normal years, the $70,000 investment in the event is worth it, Gallegos said, as some visitors tend to stay in town for about a week, providing a jolt to the economy. Gallegos, who owns a store in Silverton, said most businesses make the vast majority of their profits from June to September, with July the most profitable month.

Since the outbreak, Silverton put in place strict regulations to limit outsiders out of concern a spike in coronavirus cases would be devastating to the community and tax the limited emergency and medical resources available in the town of about 600 residents.

But recently, Gallegos said the town is making moves to reopen. She said town officials are eyeing Gov. Jared Polis’ next public health order and will determine from there whether they will request a variance to tailor the order to the community’s needs.

A previous version of this story said Ouray canceled its July 4 event. Councilors are expected to officially cancel the event on Monday.

jromeo@durangoherald.com

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