Steamboat Springs When it comes to history and tradition, few events can compare with the Routt County Fair.
Before there was a ski mountain, condos, vacation homes, youth baseball tournaments, mountain biking, kayaking and all the other things we have become known for, there were men and women who came to Routt County to carve a living out of the land.
They farmed. They ranched. They survived and laid the foundations for the communities we enjoy today.
The fair rightfully honors the agricultural heritage and traditions of those settlers.
Held every year at the same site since 1914, it is one of the longest-running events in the county. In the past 88 years, it has grown into an enormous undertaking, spanning nine days and offering a wide array of entertainment.
There are pie contests, a queen's pageant, livestock shows, a rodeo, music and dancing.
There's also a baled hay contest and a greased pig contest, a huckleberry contest, a wheat beer contest and more than most people could ever imagine.
Taken together, the events comprise a community celebration whose appeal is very basic good food, good fellowship and a good cause. The fair's primary beneficiaries are the youth of Routt County. The fair's goal is to reward those youth for the hours of work they put into projects ranging from designing and making clothing to raising show pigs.
Throughout Routt County, and the rest of the country for that matter, the number of people who participate in production agriculture is in decline. The sons and daughters of farmers and ranchers find it more and more difficult to continue in their parents' footsteps.
More and more ranch land is being converted into ranchettes and subdivisons.
But even as agriculture becomes a smaller part of our economy, it remains an enormous part of our heritage.
The fair is one of the best tools we have for celebrating that heritage and for keeping agriculture alive in the Yampa Valley. The fair is one way to introduce a way of life to hundreds of young people who might not have given agriculture a second thought otherwise.
So many of the events in our county are designed to attract people from all over to come and spend their tourism dollars here and help our economy.
The fair is different it was designed by us, for us.
The fair gets under way this weekend. There's a lot to do and see, including the new arena finished just in time for the fair. So go out to the fairgrounds in Hayden some time during the fair's nine-day run. It's a good way to support the youth of Routt County and celebrate our heritage.