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Tourism town hall met with enthusiasm

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Photo courtesy of Wilma Erven The meeting room at Needle Rock Brewing Company was packed with Delta area residents and Delta Area Chamber of Commerce members Jan. 17 for a meeting to discuss interest in a local effort to increase tourism revenue.

The meeting room at Needle Rock Brewing Company was packed with Delta area residents and Delta Area Chamber of Commerce members Thursday evening, Jan. 17, for a meeting to discuss interest in a local effort to increase tourism revenue.

City of Delta councilmember Nathan Clay introduced the discussion about the City of Delta's effort to increase tourism revenue in partnership with Delta County Tourism and the Colorado Tourism Office.

City of Delta is one of two communities in Colorado to qualify for a CRAFT 201 (Colorado Rural Academy for Tourism) grant through the Colorado Tourism Office.

The grant carries no funding, but provides a consultant to work directly with a steering committee.

Clay, a member of the steering committee, invited those present to join the city in "firing up the engine of the economy."

Amy Cassidy of Eagle is the consultant for Delta's CRAFT tourism project. She told of the strategies Eagle used to transform Eagle into a community that offers enjoyable experiences to tourists, and how the community's pride began to grow as it developed as a tourism center.

Amy Cassidy and Sam Kimbriel, owner of Needle Rock Brewery and Club Needle Rock at Devil's Thumb Golf Course, shared with those attending their personal experiences with incorporating tourism in a non-urban, agricultural environment, from the draw of outdoor adventures to wine and beer tastings.

Kimbriel spoke of his experiences growing up in Lakewood, Golden and Conifer -- and the process of getting farther away from downtown Denver. He spoke of working with the Golden Chamber of Commerce to determine how to make his business great. He spoke of branding Golden as a tourist town, and a good place for even a two-hour vacation (before back to the urban area).

"One important result of encouraging tourism is it improves the quality of life for the community," Kimbriel said.

Kimbriel spoke of coming to Delta. "Why Delta? We could check all the boxes with Delta -- heritage, culture, beer tastings, wine testing. We started three years ago.

"This is a place that is truly Colorado. Delta is the heartbeat for the whole county."

Cassidy spoke of the many resources the Colorado Tourism Office has to help a community wishing to attract tourists.

Kelli Hepler of Delta County Tourism expanded on Cassidy's comments by enumerating the resources and assistance of the Colorado Tourism Office.

Delta city manager David Torgler said tourists could go skiing in the morning, golf in the afternoon, or go fishing and take long bike rides. "Whatever their mindset, we can help them achieve it. Let's help our community grow for us and for our kids."

Torgler noted that Delta added a marketing position to city staff in 2019.

Stacey Voight, Delta County Economic Development, said, "Delta is a gateway, centrally located and we are ready to look at your future with you."

Wilma Erven, director of parks, recreation and culture for the City of Delta and chair of the steering committee, spoke of the passion that used to be part of Delta, stating, "It's time to reestablish our passion."

Erven and Sven Edstrom, DAMB Bikers, announced the kick-off of a mountain biking event for the CRAFT 201 project. The bikers will meet at the rec center, bike from the rec center to Smith Mountain, and return to join in an activity in Delta.

"We will put the passion back in Delta," Wilma said. "We have the first and best rec center in western Colorado and it is here that we will rekindle our passion."

The date for the event has not been set at this time.

Jo Ann Jarreau announced that she is starting a touring company. "I want to showcase this area, this place that is so special with its geological formations, organic farms, fishing, and all," she said.

She has a list of five potential names for her touring company and read them to those attending, asking them to show their interest in each. The possible names of "Terra Vista Tours" and "Great West Tours" drew great enthusiasm from those present.

Steering committee member Nathan Clay closed the meeting saying, "This is our first stepping stone toward Delta as a tourism center."

Members of the steering committee are Nathan Clay and Christopher Ryan from Delta City Council; Don Suppes, chair of Delta County Board of County Commissioners; Delta city manager David Torpler; Kelli Hepler, Delta County Tourism; Stacey Voight and Nicci Robbins, Delta County Economic Development; Darnell Place-Wise, Delta County public information officer; Sam Kimbriel, business owner and member of the Delta County Tourism Cabinet; and chair of the steering committee, Wilma Erven, City of Delta director of parks, recreation and culture.

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