Hayden Steamboat Springs resident Elise Anderson grows the biggest zucchini in Routt County.
At the Routt County Fair in Hayden on Thursday, during a day filled with friendly competitions in everything from quilt-making to lamb-calling, crop superintendent and fair organizer Linda Long didn't even need a scale to award Anderson the top prize in zucchini-growing.
No other entry was close.
"That's probably six or seven pounds there," Long said in Exhibit Hall at the fairgrounds, pointing to a zucchini (green-skinned summer squash) bigger than the fat end of a softball bat. "I could tell just by eyesight, that's the winner."
While Long said the number of entries in crop contests was lower this year, mostly due to weather, tables throughout Exhibit Hall overflowed with entries in numerous home arts categories including photography, baked goods and flower arranging. Judging was a serious affair - Barbara Broshous and Karen Roxvurgh pored meticulously over the quilting entries, rating them in categories such as visual impact and use of color.
"There are friendly competitions that have been going for decades," said fair organizer Karen Massey of the Routt County Cooperative Extension Office. "It's such a small-town feeling - I see people come in who haven't seen each other since the fair last year."
Long said one longstanding competition is the battle for best garlic. This year, City Market employee Mike Lang took the top prize for the odoriferous, onion-like plant, fending off a batch of high-quality entries from North Routt.
Across the outdoor arena from Exhibit Hall, friendly competition was under way in the Multi-Purpose Building, which was filled with livestock pens, ranchers young and old, enthusiastic spectators, sleeping pigs and bleating lambs.
For 7-year-old Mattie Rossi and 8-year-old Morgan Palyo, both of South Routt, the day brought an unexpected victory.
As the only two entrants in the "bum lamb" contest, Mattie and Morgan stood side-by-side in the dusty ring, each holding a water bottle to help them "call" their lambs. Bum lambs don't have parents and are bottle-fed, setting up the contest in which youths race to attract their lambs by shaking a bottle and calling.
The judge said go, the kids started calling, and the lambs : turned and ran the other way.
"They must have had a better offer back at the tent," the judge quipped. "Let's give both these young ladies a first-place ribbon."
Bailey Forster of McCoy, 14, took home a blue ribbon. Her elegant, white ewe, Fancy, won the meat-breed ewe lamb category during numerous goat and lamb contests hosted by local 4-H and FFA groups.
Bailey and other youths in the contest had quite a struggle holding their ewes in place during the showing.
"She's not very good with me yet," Bailey said of Fancy. "I just got her this year."
Today's events at the Routt County Fair include a llama show, square dancing exhibition, beef showmanship, wine and beer contest and a freestyle motocross event sponsored by Planet Powersports.
"Our biggest days will be (today) and here on out," Massey said. "There's something for everybody."
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