210616 PHOTO Mounted Shooting KEITH - 1

Ken Jones of Stevensville, Montana, competes in a mounted shooting event at the Jefferson County Recreation Park on June 12. 

 

The date was set, the invites were sent out, and after much planning, Destiny Jensen was ready to marry her then-fiancé, Dell Jensen, on June 23, 2020, at the fairground in Boulder. However, the coronavirus pandemic had other plans for the Jensens: Restrictions on gatherings forced them to cancel their wedding. 

Almost a year later, the weekend of May 23, 2021, sported freezing temperatures and several inches of snow. Many people remained indoors to avoid slippery roads and chattering teeth.

But not the Jensens. This was their day, and after a year of putting it off, nothing could stop them from making the most of it. They finally tied the knot at the Jefferson County Recreation Park—the formal facility name for the county's fairground south of Boulder. 

"We decided we were going to do it—weather or not," Destiny Jensen said, adding that the snow made for beautiful wedding photos. 

This summer feels different than the past one, Jefferson County Events Coordinator Bruce Binkowski said. As restrictions on gatherings loosen, and the weather gets warmer, Binkowski said, he can feel the excitement rising. The fairground is booked nearly every weekend from June 18 through the end of August with weddings, celebrations of life, charity events, concerts and more, he said. 

Many have stories similar to the Jensens, and according to Binkowski, the weddings will be constant: The fairground is hosting two weddings in June, four consecutive weekends of weddings in July and two in August, and are already booked for some dates in 2022. 

"It’s going to be a lot more fun than last summer," Binkowski said. "I’m seeing a trend that people are itching to get out," whether that is going to a concert, a wedding, a movie or a restaurant.

Binkowski said that in his five years as events coordinator, summers are usually "pretty busy" for the fairground. The difference this year, he said, is the palpable "anticipation" that he feels when he talks to people. This is partly due to the past year, Binkowski said, when most events at the fairground were canceled. 

"It was just a bad summer, and it was a lot more difficult for people," he said, noting that many of the most vulnerable people were unable to attend events. Binkowski said that with mask mandates and without vaccines, there was an air of stress and restraint hanging over last year's rodeo.

According to Binkowski, the Jefferson County Rodeo had been slowly growing in the years leading up to 2020. He said he will be interested to see how the rodeo, and other events that were put on hold due to the pandemic, come back.  

"I think everyone putting up an event should be prepared for good crowds," he said, adding he predicts even bigger crowds than in pre-pandemic years.

In addition to the fairground being booked, Binkowski said all the food vendors he has talked to have been "slammed." He said he used to be able to call the week before to book food vendors, but he suspects this summer will be different. 

"This tells me there’s a demand again for events, not just in Jefferson County but statewide," he said. He added that the pandemic was difficult for many food venders because these larger events are a big part of their livelihoods. 

Binkowski said the event bookings at the fairground are important for the economy, the vibrance of the community and the mental wellbeing of residents. He said events taking place at the fairground have to submit a health plan, but that there is not a restriction on events. 

"Jefferson County, for how small it is, has an amazing number of events that all took a hit last year," he said. "And now, they’re back."

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