Camel unique addition to Rendezvous Ranch event

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Elizabeth resident Daniella Marshall takes a picture of Larry the camel Saturday at Ranch Rendezvous on the Routt County Courthouse lawn. The camel was being shown by Bethany Aurin.

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Samantha Koepfer, 8, of Steamboat Springs, pets a miniature horse Saturday at Ranch Rendezvous on the Routt County Courthouse lawn. The horse, Migi, was being shown by 11-year-old Jaelyn Whaley.

— Living in Routt County, residents are used to the herds of grazing cattle and sheep and horses that dot the county's landscape.

But a camel?

Lawrence, or Larry, a Dromedary camel, was arguably the most perplexing and intriguing attraction at Saturday's fifth annual Ranch Rendezvous.

"People are amazed to see that a camel lives here in Routt County," said Marsha Daughenbaugh, executive director of the Community Agriculture Alliance. "I always tell them that any agriculture animal that is used in worldwide agriculture is important. We need to be cognizant of that."

Ranch Rendezvous is sponsored by the Community Agriculture Alliance and Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. The annual event aims to expose and educate visitors and Routt County residents about the importance of agriculture in Northwest Colorado and to show the relationship between the area's two predominant lifestyles - ranching and recreation.

Larry was just an added bonus to the other "normal" ranch animals, agricultural displays and hands-on demonstrations that kept throngs of people busy during the event, which was held on a closed Sixth Street because of ongoing construction at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area.

Deb Werner, lift operations manager for Ski Corp., said she hopes the event returns to the base of the mountain.

"We hope to bring it back to the mountain next year because it helps people understand that there are very different ways of life here," she said.

Werner said her favorite part of Ranch Rendezvous is watching the children.

"Some of their faces are priceless, especially if they've never been exposed to ranch animals before," she said. "It's nice because it also gives adults exposure to a different aspect of our community."

Honoring agriculture is a main goal of the event, Daughenbaugh said.

"We're trying to help people understand that agriculture is a viable part of our heritage, and that we like and we're proud of what we do," she said.

Aleigh Aurin, 12, happily showed off her family's ranch animals Saturday, which included Larry, a five-week-old goat named Star and a pony.

"People say, 'You're like Noah's Ark,'" she said, holding Star. "I guess we are."

Bethany Aurin, Aleigh's mother, said she enjoys bringing the animals out because it gives her an opportunity to educate the public.

"People can't believe we'd close off a downtown street for our animals, but it's what we do," she said.

Larry, who was acquired by the Aurins about three years ago, definitely gets the most raised eyebrows, she said.

"Larry does a good job letting people know that a lot of animals do really well here in the winter," she said. "Camels are very adaptive."

Aurin said Larry is a very social animal that doesn't mind being stared at, photographed, sat on or ridden.

"He's fantastic," she said.

Larry definitely helped bring in a crowd, Daughenbaugh said. Being paired with the Main Street Farmers Market on the Routt County Courthouse lawn helped, too, she said.

"All in all, it was a well-rounded day," she said. "We had a lot of fun."

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