The Routt County Fair and Rodeo, which starts Saturday and runs through Aug. 22 at the Routt County Fairgrounds, will celebrate its 90th year with new entertainment and new events focused on the ranch.
From quarter horses to paints, horses of every kind and their dedicated riders will show spectators what it takes to work on an everyday ranch during the working ranch horse competition Aug. 21.
The new event is similar to the American Quarter Horse Association ranch horse versatility competition and gives riders and their horses the chance to display their skills in a variety of tasks and chores common in day-to-day ranch work.
There will be roping and non-roping divisions, and all the tasks must be accomplished in a five-minute time limit.
Organizers Marianne Sasak and Jeannie Jo Logan patterned the competition after a similar event at the Black Hills Stock Show in Rapid City, S.D., where it is wildly popular.
"It's a fabulous event, and I wanted to see it happen here," said Sasak, who offered to organize the competition to add more ranching flair to the fair.
Unlike the AQHA competition, horses of any kind -- registered or not -- may compete.
Riders must own the horse or have worked on the ranch owning the horse for at least six months.
Sasak and Logan noted working-horse events are growing in popularity throughout Western states and they hope to eventually develop the competition into a regional circuit. Craig has featured the event during its Grand Olde West Days, and Kremmling plans to have it during its fair, Logan said.
Also adding to the ranching aspect of the fair will be cattle dog trails, which debut Monday. Handlers and their dogs will compete for points as they work cattle through an obstacle course of panels and corrals.
"It's for the rancher who isn't into training his dog but uses his dog," Sasak said.
For the first time this year, non-4-H participants may demonstrate their speed and agility in horseback riding in an open gymkhana competition Aug. 19.
"It's basically a way to provide more people the opportunity to be involved in the fair," said Peter Daley, who is coordinating arena events for the fair.
The event will include barrel racing, pole bending and stake racing competitions. A "musical horse" event also is being planned to add a little fun to the competitions, Daley said.
The Westernaires Red, Calvary and Indian Warrior teams of youth performing riders will be a new entertainment act featured at the fair Aug. 20 and 21. The precision drill teams from Jefferson County have been regular performers at the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo.
Carnival activities, provided by Great Northern A'Fair Carnival, will return to the Routt County Fairgrounds with games and 10 rides -- including a Ferris wheel and roller coaster --Aug. 18 to 21. The carnival will open at about 3 p.m. and close about 10 p.m., except on Aug. 20 and 21, when it likely will open at noon, fair board coordinator Terry Doherty said.
In response to surveys indicating that residents want more activities for children at the fair, organizers have hired Abbie the Clown from Denver to entertain youths and adults alike.
Starting Aug. 18, Abbie will help people hone their clown skills at the Kiddy Corral, which will be set up in the fenced area east of the grandstands.
"People that ever wanted to learn how to juggle, paint their faces or make animal balloons, this is their chance," Doherty said.
The Kiddy Corral also will feature daily activities for children such as a corn pit, ducky pond, beanbag toss, an inflatable castle and mini train rides.
Other new entertainment acts this year include Hayden's 3-Wire Band, which will perform Aug. 21 for the 4-H/Future Farmers of America barbecue. Mandolin player Scott Bussen will entertain fair crowds Aug. 20 to 22.
Those itching to dress their goats, rabbits, llamas or other animals in costumes will have their chance at the new "dress your animal" competition Aug. 19.
Teams of 4-H students will get the chance to make their leaders and Colorado State University Extension agents look as silly as possible during the "dress your
4-H leader" event, also Aug. 19.
Dogs won't be excluded from fair fun. A new doggy days event, scheduled for Monday, will give canine pals the chance to demonstrate their obedience skills and tricks. There also will be a doggy/owner look-alike contest and dogs also may have their caricatures drawn or their futures predicted by a paw reader.
Organizers are encouraging people to participate in the ice cream social and talent show Aug. 18. Ventriloquist Wayne Francis will be the master of ceremonies at the event and prizes will be awarded to talent show winners.
"It's just a low-key fun way to demonstrate that hidden talent of yours," Doherty said.
Whether its families with five generations participating in the fair or newcomers interested in a taste of the area's history, the fair is a chance for everybody to take a break from their usual, fast-paced lives, Doherty said.
"In a world that has become technological and unemotional ... this event takes you back 100 years to good old-fashioned crafts," she said.
For more information about the fair, visit www.routtcountyfair.org. Routt County Fair and Rodeo guides are available at businesses throughout Routt County.
-- To reach Tamera Manzanares, call 871-4204 or e-mail email@example.com.