Hayden Sunday at the Routt County Fair was as much about the kids and the audience as it was about the top-class bull-riders and calf-ropers involved in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeo. Besides the crowning of the new fair queen, south Routt's Kaycee Samuelson, there were a a number of entertaining and humorous events, many of them designed for the children.
For every man that's tried to tame a tractor and for every woman who's tried to tame that man, there's the blind man's tractor race. Sunday morning at the fair, 11 hardy men attempted to drive a tractor through an obstacle course guided by their female companions in the passenger seat. There was only one catch: the men were blindfolded.
Their antics amplified by microphones attached to the women, the participants in the tractor race had to drive through a series of cones and load a bale of hay onto the bed of their tractors. All the while, the man participant was coaxed, cajoled, and, when needed, berated, by the woman next to him. At cries of "No your OTHER left," roars of laughter erupted from the crowd.
"It just does show how men really need direction from their wives," said Charlotte Samuelson of Indian Hills.
"It's kind of like the blind leading the blind," replied her husband, Gene.
All of the participants drove a John Deere Gator 6-by-4 tractor. Most completed the course in about 2 minutes, although there were a few exceptions.
"He needed to go faster," said Gretchen Daly of her husband Pete's driving. "I was a little disappointed with the speed."
The winning time was 1:45, posted by Mark and Ceena Rossi of south Routt. The partners received a $50 check from the Routt County Cattlewomen. One of the groups, a little short on the 18-year-old age requirement, entered the contest unofficially. Cassidy Kurtz, a 16-year-old, lead Whit Gates, 14, around the course. As Whit came down the home stretch, which is punctuated by a gate, Cassidy yelled, "Stop! You're gonna hit the gate!" Whit hit the brakes, looked up, and waited for instructions.
"OK," Cassidy said. "You're backing up."
During the rodeo, kids got to show off their cowboy expertise in events like calf-riding and mutton-bustin'. After getting parental release forms signed, youngsters tried their luck riding calves and sheep. Participants as young as 3 years old latched onto the thick wool of a sheep while rodeo clowns grabbed onto the belts of the kids. As the sheep was released, general chaos ensued, ending usually with a clown holding a kid by the belt and a sheep trotting to the other side of the pen.
"I hurt my head," said Lane Venzke, who had stayed on his sheep for one of the longest times, before falling hard onto the ground. A few of the kids walked away from the contest crying.
Things got really messy, however, after the rodeo when the catch-a-bunny, catch-a-calf and greased pig contests began.
The calf contest consisted of a group of teen-agers chasing a speedy calf around the rodeo ring, trying to grab a band from its tail. Eventually, Whit Gates caught the band and picked up his $50 prize. After the bunny contest, in which 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds chased bunnies around a pen set up outside the rodeo ring, a truck hosed down the dirt for the greased pig extravaganza.
At the drop of a hand, kids ranging in age from 6 to 13, in 3 groups, made a mad dash for the pigs, which were huddled together on the opposite side. Amidst squeals of delight from the children and squeals of terror from the swine, the arena and everything within it became covered in mud. A few lucky kids went home with pigs. The rest went home with dirty trousers.
"You said get you one," said Jesse Grubbs, an 8-year-old from Hayden, to his father. "Well, I got me one."
To reach Avi Salzman call 871-4203 or e-mail email@example.com