Town Kids gets ready for Routt County Fair
4-H programs let non-ranch children raise livestock for county event
August 15, 2010
Steamboat Springs — Lori Elliott doesn't live on a ranch, but a phone call she received Wednesday morning made her feel like she did. Her daughter's two sheep had escaped from a nearby farm in Steamboat Springs.
"They were running wild through the neighborhood," said Elliott, whose daughters Amber, 10, and Taylor, 12, are raising the sheep on a local pasture to display at the 96th annual Routt County Fair this week. "Somebody left the pen door open."
Amber and Taylor denied the accusation and said only the sheep are to blame. The children have been busy the past few weeks practicing their showmanship and walking Joy and Tinker Bell near the pasture where they graze. They visit the pen three times a day, and the sheep often have neighbors looking twice as they're walked down residential streets.
"It's definitely a lot of work," Amber said. "We come in the morning, after school and again later in the night."
The girls are members of the 4-H Town Kids program, which gives children in Steamboat and Hayden the opportunity to raise livestock on land leased to them by ranchers. The program, which was launched in April, is part of a larger set of opportunities 4-H organized that let local children engage in a variety of activities such as baking cakes and launching rockets.
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Routt County Extension Agent CJ Mucklow was busy setting up the fair Thursday. He said the 4-H programs are instrumental in teaching youths valuable skills.
"The children in the Town Kids program will not grow up to run a sheep ranch," he said. "But what they learn here will help them tremendously as they grow older."
He said the animals are tools that teach the children personal responsibility.
Lori Elliott, who participated in the 4-H program when she was a child, said taking her girls to the fair for the first time last year was bittersweet.
"It was exciting for everybody," she said. "For them, the fair was a combination of nerves, pride and accomplishment, all rolled into one. Seeing them compete brings back memories of my childhood."
In Hayden, the Town Kids program has more members, and children are busy raising pigs and sheep at the Routt County Fairgrounds. On Thursday, the Johnson family was scoping out the competition.
"We've had a lot of fun, and I can't wait to show him at the fair," said Emma Johnson, 12, who was busy shearing her sheep, Shaggy, at the fairgrounds.
Emma's mother, Sharon, said she moved her family to Hayden from Evergreen so they could experience an agricultural lifestyle.
"It was a chance for me to bring everyone back to basics," Sharon Johnson said. "It's much easier for them to be able to experience things like horseback riding and fishing in a town like this where there are less distractions."
2010 Routt County Fair schedule of events
OA: Outdoor Arena MPB: Multipurpose Building EX: Exhibit Hall F: Field SAB: Small Animal Barn T: Track DC: Dry Creek
8:30 a.m. Open horse show Western performance/gymkhana (OA)
8 to 10 a.m. Baled hay contest entries accepted at the Extension Office in Steamboat Springs
8 a.m. 4-H ranch horse versatility (OA)
9 a.m. 4-H dog show (F)
1 to 2 p.m. Baled hay contest entries accepted in Hayden (EX)
3 p.m. 4-H English show (OA)
6 p.m. 4-H gymkhana (OA)
8 a.m. to 6 p.m. 4-H/National FFA Organization livestock stalling (MPB)
9 a.m. 4-H horse show (OA)
4:30 to 6 p.m. Rabbit and poultry check-in (SAB)
5 p.m. 4-H roping (OA)
7 to 8 p.m. Swine weigh-in (MPB)
10 a.m. to noon. Steer, sheep and goat weigh-in (MPB)
10 a.m. to noon. Rabbit and poultry check-in (SAB)
1 to 8 p.m. Home arts check-in (EX)
3 p.m. Swine showmanship (MPB)
5 p.m. Market swine (MPB)
5 to 7 p.m. FFA alumni fundraiser barbecue — All are welcome (MPB)
7 to 7:30 p.m. Steamboat vet ice cream social (MPB)
8 a.m. 4-H/FFA Rabbit and poultry show (SAB), open rabbit and poultry 4-H Show immediately following
9 a.m. Home arts judging begins (EX)
11 a.m. Sheep lead (MPB)
1 p.m. 4-H/FFA goat show (MPB)
1:30 p.m. Bum lamb contest (MPB)
2 p.m. 4-H/FFA breeding sheep (MPB)
3 p.m. Sheep showmanship (MPB)
5 p.m. Market lamb (MPB)
6:30 p.m. Pie contest entries due (F)
7 p.m. Rocky Mountain fish and chips dinner and pie contest with live entertainment by cowboy poet Jeff Carson. $5 a plate. (F)
8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Inflatable rides free courtesy of First National Bank of the Rockies
8 a.m. Exhibit Hall opens
9 a.m. to noon. Cloverbud for a day
10 a.m. Dress your animal (MPB)
Noon. 4-H/FFA llama show (MPB)
12:30 p.m. Bucket calf contest (MPB)
12:30 p.m. 4-H/FFA dairy/beef breeding show (MPB)
3 p.m. Beef showmanship (MBP)
5 p.m. Market beef (MPB)
6 p.m. Central Park Liquor wine and beer contest (EX)
7:30 p.m. Demolition derby with live music, tickets required (OA)
8 a.m. Exhibit Hall opens
8:30 a.m. Roping (OA)
10 a.m. Lion's Club Parade, downtown Hayden
10 a.m. Bev Mason Memorial Carriage Show (DC)
11 a.m. DeLine Land and Cattle Co./North Forty Fencing mutton
11:30 a.m. NWCC open gymkhana (OA)
Noon. Forster Trucking/Tuff Enuff rodeo calf/bull riding (OA)
Noon. Community Agricultural Alliance horse shoe pitching contest (F)
Noon. 4-H/FFA round robin showmanship (MPB)
3 p.m. 4-H Presale/Bobby Robinson Memorial Barbecue (F)
5 p.m. Junior livestock sale (MPB)
8:30 p.m. to midnight. Barn dance with live music by Dokajovi (F)
■ Aug. 22
8 a.m. Exhibit Hall opens
9 a.m. Pretty baby contest (EX)
9 a.m. Chuck Fulton Memorial Open Draft Horse Contest (OA)
10 a.m. Team pull auction (T)
10 a.m. Mayor's Brownie Contest and Commissioner's Cookie Basket Contest (EX)
10 a.m. Coloring contest judging (EX)
10:15 a.m. Flat Tops Ranch Supply team pull competition, immediately following the draft horse contest (T)
1:15 p.m. Ranch rodeo team auction (T)
1:30 p.m. Mountain Valley Bank ranch rodeo (OA)
1:30 p.m. Forster Trucking/Tuff Enuff rodeo calf/bull riding (OA)
2 p.m. DeLine Land and Cattle Co./North Forty Fencing mutton bustin' (T)
2 to 6 p.m. Open class payout, home arts exhibits released (EX)
3 p.m. Adopt-a-pig, immediately following ranch rodeo, pre-entry required