Hundreds savored the Taste of South Routt on Saturday, but they also relished its sounds, sights and smells.
To the strains of Western, rock and big band music, people relaxed in the shade of Decker Park in Oak Creek. The aroma of sizzling fajitas, pizza and popcorn filled the air, and children leapt gleefully through a cold wall of water sprayed into the air from a fire hose.
An estimated 600 to 800 people attended the fourth-annual Taste of South Routt, which cost $1 for people 13 and older. The event featured food booths from local restaurants, the band Boomerang and scores of games for children and adults.
One such game was the dunking booth.
"Miss it!" yelled 13-year-old Darcy Wisecup as she sat on a platform above a giant tub of water.
The ball missed the dunk tank's trigger arm by several feet, but Darcy already was drenched from a previous dunking.
"My best friend got me," she said.
Her best friend, 13-year-old Susan Gonzales, stood proudly by the tank and said she owes her throwing arm to playing second base on a softball team.
Others lined up to "Dunk Your Friend for $1," and all the money raised went to the LIFT-UP Food Bank for Routt County.
"I thought it was going to be mellow, but once people saw one person get dunked, everyone wanted to do it," dunk-tank organizer Robin Heide said.
Beside the dunk tank, arts and crafts booths, chair-massage areas and game tents stretched along the park. At the far end of the park, a horseshoe competition began.
Dirt sprayed in the air as metal shoes clanged off stakes in the ground.
"The trick to horseshoes is to drink plenty of beer before the match," competitor Jeff Murray joked.
Nine two-person teams competed for the first-place prize of tickets to Strings in the Mountains Music Festival and passes to the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Center.
Although Saturday's event drew more light-hearted competitors, Oak Creek is "home to some of the county's best horseshoe throwers," said Arlene Porteus, the competition's organizer and an avid horseshoe thrower.
"I love watching all the techniques and different styles people have," she said.
Next to the horseshoe competition, stood a herd of ersatz cattle. Hay bales with attached fake steer heads waited to be lassoed by children. Those who lassoed a steer three times won a hat.
"The goal is to try and get kids interested in the rural lifestyle," said Sam Dilley, one of the organizers for Egeria Park's lassoing contest.
Many other activities for children such as beanbag tossing and balloon popping also were popular, but guest appearances by several miniature horses stole the show.
Children crowded adoringly around the horses, brought to the event by Chuck and Betty Sweetland.
"My favorite thing is to pet the horses," said 5-year-old Danielle Villa. Her face painted like an orange cat with black whiskers, Danielle stroked the mane of Fancy, a miniature horse no taller than Danielle.
"I can ride big horses, too, when my Daddy is with us," Danielle said.
While the children frolicked and the horses grazed, adults sat talking, munching on corn and listening to the music from the band stage.
"The event is a great chance to see people in a less structured environment, where we can sit and chat," said David Bonfiglio, the Taste of South Routt's chief organizer.
For him, the event is a way to thank the people in the county.
"It's a huge give-back to the general community from the business community," he said. In fact, several businesses donated a host of prizes such as a raft trip from Bucking Rainbow Outfitters, passes for the The Howler Alpine Slide and gift certificates to many other shops and restaurants.
"All told, people probably have a one-in-two chance of winning," Bonfiglio said.
The good odds didn't stop a few satiated people from taking their leave about 2 p.m., though.
"We're stuffed. We're going home," two said.
But as they left, scores of other empty stomachs streamed in to take their places.