Teller County Starting to Completely Reopen!

Museums, Libraries and City Facilities Join the Caravan

~ by Rick Langenberg ~

The ringing of the slots again this week isn’t the only sign of a grand reopening of Teller County, and especially in the Cripple Creek/Victor district.

With a little luck, the CC/V district hopes to open the Heritage Center, the Homestead House and a variety of local museums along with its libraries, pending the approval of the county’s public health department.

In addition, the Creek Park and Recreation Department has already resumed activities on a limited scale. City hall is also seeing renewed signs of life again and locals can attend a council meeting live, instead of having to view these gatherings on their computer or smart phone.

Also, the Florissant Fossil Beds recently announced that it will allow access to its complete lineup of trails and outside exhibits, picnic areas and self-guided routes, but will keep their visitor center closed.

“We are starting to open up again,” said Cripple Creek Interim Administrator Paul Harris  at a previous council meeting.

However, just like the rebirth of the casinos, the city’s picture for the year is still quite blurry.  Cripple Creek has gained quite a reputation for its festive lineup of summer events. Those won’t occur in 2020, with a few exceptions.

The city previously took steps to cancel its annual Top of the World rodeo gala, held in mid-June. But the bout of cancellations continues.

In a big  blow to theater-goers, the city has canned its summer shows at the Butte Theater. Typically, the city does a melodrama and musical during the summer months.   “It is a huge challenge,” said Harris, in describing the feat of doing shows, with the current restrictions for operating theaters

Mel Moser, the Butte Theater Manager, echoed similar sentiments. “It is unfortunate,” said Moser, who admitted he has received a flood of phone calls of people who

Mel Moser, the Butte Theater Manager

regretted the news.

Under the restrictions, he said it was really tough for small theaters,  like the Butte, to do live shows. He estimated the Butte would probably only be permitted to house less than 50 patrons, under the new rules.

But that said, the city still hopes to do Halloween and Christmas shows, which are among their most popular.

As for key events, Harris said the city is still poised to do a July 4th fireworks display. But it won’t feature any musical entertainment or activities in the park.

Donkey Derby Days won’t occur at its normal time in the peak of the summer, and instead will occur in early September. This event, sponsored by the Two Mile High Club, may even get renamed this year, as it will feature a different format, according to officials. More details will be forthcoming.

The big question mark lingers over the fate of the city’s most well-attended festival, Salute to American Veterans Rally and motorcycle ride.

Negotiations are pending between the event organizer, ProPromotions and the county’s public health department, according to Harris.

In any case, the festival will take on a different look, if it occurs.

Outdoor Street Fair

On the upside, the city is ready to assist the business community and the casinos, any way they can, even if it means closing off parts of the main street  to promote a more outdoor, festive flair. Plans for “Streateries at the Creek” are moving forward. This is a temporary program to allow current restaurants, bars and retail shops to operate in an outdoor setting, adjacent to their current businesses. Under this bid, businesses even can use public sidewalks and street areas with permission. It could pave the way for a lively outdoor environment, allowing businesses to have live music, games, speaker music, sports broadcasting, movies and pet-friendly areas outdoors.

Marketing and Special Events Director Jeff Mosher sees this as  a boon for local casinos, which are restricted with what they can feature inside their buildings under the current guidelines.

In some ways, this idea has drawn comparisons with such towns as Salida, and even a smaller version of the 16th Street Mall in Denver.   Harris said last week this idea has been well received, and officials are receiving inquiries from a few of the casinos.

The model of Salida is even being touted by one newly formed group, the Gold Camp Coalition, which is trying to jumpstart the non-gaming engines for Cripple Creek and Victor.

Last week, Michael Lindsey, a leader of the group,  made a brief presentation before the county commissioners. He said the group is trying to unite many of the nonprofits in the county.

He said the impetus behind the group’s formation hinged on the number of vacant buildings in both communities. He said the group wants to highlight adventure, fun and history in the high country, and organize a few celebratory events. More specifically, he said the region abounds with endless opportunities, when it comes to its rich history, geology and natural resources.

“We have to up our game,” said Lindsey, in describing efforts to reignite the economic engines for the district.