Fair ready to open 90th year

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— The Routt County Fair will celebrate its 90th anniversary with new seating, new parking and a carnival, among other additions.

At the fair, which kicks off Aug. 14 with an open horse show, viewers can sit comfortably on two new sets of portable, aluminum bleachers. The bleachers were purchased recently with a $9,291 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado, said Terry Doherty, fair board coordinator.

The bleachers will be used in the outdoor arena for the open horse show events and then moved indoors for the livestock sale and shows. The fair's existing wooden bleachers are old and worn, Doherty said, so the GOCo grant came at a good time.

There also will be two new parking lots for fairgoers and participants, thanks to help from the town of Hayden and Routt County, Doherty said. The two entities each paid half of $137,000 budgeted to build two parking lots at the south side of Dry Creek to provide for more than 100 new parking spaces.

The cost of the parking lots likely will be lower than originally estimated, Doherty said, though final estimates are not in. The extra parking is especially helpful because the fair will host a carnival this year, Doherty said.

The last time the fair had a carnival was in 2000. This year, the carnival is back, featuring at least 10 rides, including a Ferris wheel, and various games, Doherty said.

"We've heard consistently for three years that (the fair) needs more to do for the younger generations, and that the carnival would be a good idea," Doherty said. She said she also hopes the carnival will draw spectators who typically wouldn't come to the county fair.

The carnival will be open Aug. 18 to 22, but presale tickets are available now at several locations across the county. Tickets cost $1 each, and people who buy the presale tickets need only one ticket per ride, while those who buy tickets at the carnival may need two or three tickets per ride, Doherty said.

Doherty also is encouraging entrants and attendees for a local talent show to be held Aug. 18. The show features emcee Wayne Francis, a ventriloquist who has made appearances on Sesame Street and will perform at Strings in the Mountains. The talent show is at the same time as the free ice cream social. Last year there were only four entries, so this year, Doherty hopes that more people can be convinced to enter and compete for the cash prizes.

"It's really neat just to see our own people performing," she said.

A highlight of the week promises to be two performances by the Westernaires, a horseback drill team, Doherty said.

Looking over exhibits also is a fair favorite, but Doherty encouraged people to wait until Thursday or later of fair week to view the exhibits, which gives time for set-up.

The Routt County Fair is Aug. 14 to 22 at the fairgrounds in Hayden. The Web site for the fair is www.routtcountyfair.org.

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