Brew tasters and square dancers kick off Friday night festivities

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— Llamas weren't the only things being judged Friday at the Routt County Fair, hoping for a call of, "nice color and good legs," from the judges.

A selection of homemade wines and home-brewed beers was put out at Exhibit Hall for 15 tasters and judge Jerry Delay to determine the county's best beverage crafters.

Wine and beer superintendent Maury Bunn went through the anonymous entrant bottles starting with a sweet mead honey wine and working through creative selections of everything from crabapple- to peach-based wines to the darker red varieties.

Phippsburg's Steve Meade provided the tasting pool with some insight into the details of the fermentation process.

"It's about learning and about making better wine," Meade said, who entered few of his own creations and was eager to get some rounded feedback.

Oak Creek's Bev Mack inquired if any tasters would be willing to join the square dancing exhibition starting outside the hall.

"You need eight to form a square," said Mack, who's been square dancing "off and on," for the past 20 years.

Mack got her prerequisite number and a few more dancers, many decked out in full traditional Western square dance attire, except for the shoes on some. While Barb Kerley had on her heels, Mack was ready in a pair of sneakers.

"If you dance, every tip - that's two dances - at a dance, that's like walking seven miles," Mack said.

Kathy Kline, who's been dancing since 1977 and whose husband, Jim, was calling instructions, enjoyed the exercise as well as the social side of dancing to the calls.

"Our motto is that this is friendship set to music," Kline said.

For dancers like Kline and Neil Bergman, the exhibition was a reunion of the Yampa Valley's dedicated square dancers after a summer apart. Soon they'll see each other for the dances at 7 p.m. every Friday at the Hayden Congregational Church, starting the third Friday in September.

Back in the hall, awards were ready for the wines, with Jim Adams' Chenin Blanc taking premium champion honors and Meade's Horse Spirits Chokecherry wine taking reserve champion honors.

"When I started doing this six years ago, we had a pretty good home brew group with a lot more beer than wine - a good two-dozen entries," Bunn said while presenting the selections of this year's beer entries. "Now, we really flip-flopped to the wine."

Events continue through the weekend. Exhibit Hall opens at 8 a.m. Vendors and inflatable rides will be open all day. Today's events will be highlighted by the Northwest Colorado Consultants Open Gymkhana events (1 to 3 p.m.) and the Aspen Valley/Harley-Davidson Barn Dance (8:30 p.m. to midnight).

Visit www.routtcountyfair.org for full schedule and details.

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