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Crowds visited Farmington Lake throughout the season
The beach at Farmington Lake has closed for the season
FARMINGTON — Farmington Lake remained a popular venue for the second year in a row this year.
The lake's swimming season closed Labor Day. It will reopen on Memorial Day next year.
The lake became a destination summer location two years ago when City Council chose to open an area for swimming. According to city documents, the beach averaged 130 people an hour during July. In June and July, the city received more than $57,000 from fees charged at the lake including season passes, day passes and night fishing, according to city documents. This was the first year the city charged an entrance fee to Farmington Lake.
Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Director Cory Styron said the city is still compiling the numbers from this season, which ended Monday. He said initial counts show there may have been a slight decrease in attendance this year after the city added a $5 entrance fee, but it did not significantly impact crowd size.
On Friday, a man drowned while swimming out to retrieve a raft. Styron said the drowning will not impact the decision to allow swimming at the lake.
"It's a sad and tragic event," he said.
The man who drowned, 31-year-old Jamie Tolbert, was swimming outside the designated area. Styron said the drowning illustrates the reasons why the City Council chose to open a specific area with trained lifeguards for swimming.
"It is still against the law to swim outside of the beach area and outside of the beach times," he said.
While the lake's swimming season was a success for the parks department, Red Apple Transit's bus route that stopped by the lake did not have any riders this year, according to Andrew Montoya, the Red Apple Transit director. He said the two departments will meet to decide whether or not to continue the route next year.
Farmington Convention and Visitors Bureau has been working to market the lake as a destination for visitors. Over the past three years, it has hosted competitions. This year the bureau had a "Flash Your Fish" contest. More than 100 people from southwest Colorado and northwest New Mexico entered pictures of themselves holding fish caught at Farmington Lake.
Dylan Grace, Damien Lobato, Christianna Wilson and Brian David Harvey were the four winners this summer, according to Ingrid Gilbert, the assistant director of the Farmington Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Next year will bring new additions to the Farmington Lake. Styron said the city hopes to have a camping area ready for summer 2018.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.