Hayden Young children from several of the county's day-care facilities were bused to the fairgrounds in Hayden Friday morning to get a little taste of 4-H life a taste the tykes found extremely palatable.
The purpose of the excursion was to help pass on the agricultural spirit and heritage of Routt County to the next generation.
In that vein, scores of children watched the morning's market swine show. With their fists wrapped around the fence rail, they watched in a momentary and unusual hush as 4-Hers just a couple years older than themselves guided pigs around the arena.
"Hey, wait a minute," 5-year-old Nick Rossman suddenly said, touching the shirt of his tour-guide. "Don't they make bacon from pigs?"
Later in their guided tour, Hayden's 5-year-old Jackie Muhme showed 3- and 4-year-olds from Steamboat's preschools what privileges belonging to a 4-H family can involve.
"You take it like this," she said, opening up a cage in the rabbit, chicken and turkey house, "and hold it by its feet and here, you can pet it."
A line of half a dozen small children gingerly touched the feathers of Muhme's hen and quickly withdrew their hands in hysterical giggles.
"Did she bring that chicken from home?" 3-year-old Bailey Fairbanks asked incredulously. "How can a little girl have a chicken at home?"
Many of the youngsters, who do not live on ranches or farms, were a bit astounded with a morning spent beyond playground boundaries.
"Whew! This is really wearin' me out," Rossman said. Suddenly he looked up as he plodded by the rodeo livestock pens and glanced around nervously. "Um, are those bulls locked up?"
Senior 4-Hers and fair folk like Shari Yeager gave the children a tour of the fairgrounds, complete with one free ticket on a carnival ride of their choice, a cookie-decorating session in the exhibit hall, and the chance to pet everything from pigs and llamas to Angora bunnies and ducks.
"It's kind of stinky," 5-year-old Campbell Atchison said as he petted the back of a newly-sheared lamb. "Baaa baaa baaa d'ya hear what he said?"
First Tracks teacher Tracey Delliquadri, a Routt County native and former 4-Her herself, said bringing the children to the fair was a great idea.
"This is so much fun," she said. "I don't know why we don't do this every year."
Delliquadri led her excited young students in a rousing chorus of barnyard animal sounds and quizzed them on each animal they passed.
"Does anyone remember what kind of horse this one is?" she said as the group passed a black-and-white horse in its stall.
"Painted!" half of the tykes responded, while the other half stood staring up at the large animal with their little mouths hung open in awe.
The special day for the county's young folk was organized by First Impressions of Routt County.
To reach Bonnie Nadzam call 871-4205 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org