The Colorado Model Railroad Museum is a Weld County treasure featuring an array of model railroad sets. Watching trains regularly running on carefully constructed tracks, winding past miniature towns and rural vistas, is a fascinating experience. It is equally impressive to consider the craftsmanship and care that model railroad hobbyists have devoted to this display. Many of these hobbyists continue to work on the railroad as “engineers” and visitors to the museum can see their dedication to their craft as they tinker with the sets, make adjustments, and educate visitors on the project.
This museum brings joy to people of all ages and Weld County residents are fortunate to have it in the region. Unfortunately, not enough of them know about it and some simply can’t pay for the reasonable admission price. While other areas, such Denver, have resources to pay for lost revenue from free weekends, Weld County has no such funded support. The museum had long wanted to conduct a free weekend, but as a nonprofit, it simply wasn’t possible.
The Community Foundation’s Making Your Wish: 20th Anniversary Community Grant program enabled a free weekend to become a reality. Designed to support events and programs to bring Weld County community members together, the Grant Program was the Foundation’s way of giving presents back during its 20th Anniversary year.
The free weekend at the museum was the first in a series of activities that were part of the grant program and clearly fulfilled the mission of a community event. The attendance for the weekend was 1,046 where the average weekend attendance for the three years prior was 254.
Museum Director, Michelle Kempema, spoke of the direct impact the program had on allowing new visitors to experience the facility. According to Kempema, “The museum sits at the entrance to a neighborhood in Greeley where residents might find an economic barrier to admission to a museum just down the street. Through this grant we were able to open the museum to everyone for an entire weekend, allowing them to attend.”
- Grant that funded the program: Making Your Wish: 20th Anniversary Community Grant
- Amount of grant funds given to the program: $1,700
- Funding dates: The free weekend was held January 20-22
- Program Structure: The program was structured very simply. Visitors during the free weekend could view the museum without paying an entry fee.
- Program impact: Because of this grant, everyone in the region could access this community treasure and many took advantage of the opportunity. Attendance was more than four times what is typical for a weekend. Furthermore, the individuals, couples, and families with children that came and enjoyed quality time became a wonderful example of our community coming together.