Jill Delay: Routt County tradition begins with fair

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— When it comes to history and tradition, few entities in Routt County can compare with the Routt County Fair. Celebrating 94 years in 2008, the Routt County Fair takes place Aug. 8 to 17 at the fairgrounds in Hayden.

Before there was a ski mountain, condos, vacation homes, Triple Crown tournaments, mountain biking, kayaking and all the other activities the Yampa Valley has become known for, there were men and women who came to Routt County to carve livings out of this rough, mountainous terrain. They farmed. They ranched. They survived and laid the foundations for the communities we enjoy today.

The annual Routt County Fair rightfully honors the agricultural heritage and traditions of those settlers. Held every year on the same site since 1914, it is one of the longest-running events in Routt County. In the past century, it has grown into an enormous undertaking, spanning 10 days and offering a wide array of contests, exhibits, livestock shows and entertainment.

The Routt County Fair is not just for spectators.The fair is built on locals' participation and entries. Thanks to this exceptional participation, the Routt County Fair is among the best in Northwest Colorado, possibly the state, for open class entries making for a jam-packed (pardon the pun) and beautiful exhibition hall. Routt County residents can enter just about anything they've made, including decorated cakes, Lego creations, scrapbooks, photographs, wool, hay, jelly, muffins, lettuce, petunias, artwork, terrariums, leather craft, wine, beer and quilts. Oh the quilts. Easily the most breathtaking exhibit when you first enter the hall after judging. Beautiful cloth painstakingly crafted into works of art through much time, effort and knowledge. After you've oohed and ahhed about the quilts, you can make your way through the more than 1,300 other exhibits.

It's easy to participate. Gather your goods and head to the fairgrounds from 1 to 8 p.m. Aug. 13, fill out an entry tag and cross your fingers. Open class judging takes place Aug. 14. The hall is open during judging, and it's always exciting to see the red, white and blue ribbons start popping up all over with great anticipation for the much-coveted purple ribbons presented to the grand champions in all categories.

Along with the open class exhibits are the many contests at the fair. Dig out your best brownie recipe, and enter the Mayors Brownie Contest where mayors from Routt County pick their favorite. Or the Commissioners Cookie Basket contest where the Routt County Commissioners eagerly taste-test cookies from kitchens across the county and award their favorite. Presentation matters in these contests. All it takes to enter is for you to show up at the fairgrounds exhibit hall with your delectable delights by 10 a.m. Aug. 17. Simple.

Rounding out the fair's exhibits, contests and livestock shows are the entertainment and events. Don't miss the Bellamy Brothers in concert Aug. 14. The love still flows as Howard and David Bellamy continue to prove that the trail they've ridden to fame has been as unique as their music itself - music that is now celebrating 30 years of success. With their songs, success has followed success: "Dancing Cowboys," "Sugar Daddy," "You Ain't Just Whistlin' Dixie," "Lovers Live Longer," "Do You Love As Good As You Look," "Redneck Girl," "For All The Wrong Reasons," "I Love Her Mind," "I Need More Of You," "Old Hippie," "Too Much Is Not Enough," "Kids Of The Baby Boom," and "Reggae Cowboy" and "Crazy From The Heart,"... all have lined the corridors of the Bellamy's musical history and their walls with platinum and gold.

After the concert Thursday night, get ready for some metal crunchin', engine smokin' fun at 7 p.m. Aug. 15. Demolition derby is a generation-binding, intense, nonstop, heavy-metal mayhem of collisions. A nerve wracking, knuckle-busting prep in the pits where men and women cage their fury and unleash it when they hit the dirt. It is a contest where cars compete to be the last one moving. Audiences are treated to the pandemonium of cars crashing into one another. This event promises dents, dings, dirt and destruction, everything that audiences expect from a demolition derby.

Once the derby gets audiences all riled up, they will want to test their skill on the mechanical bull and in the bouncy boxing ring. As these activities build appetites, the midway is the place to be with all the traditional fair food including funnel cakes, fresh-squeezed lemonade, burgers, Philly steak sandwiches and monstrous burritos.

You can't really call yourself a "local" until you've experienced the fair, so strap on your boots or your sandals and be part of this valley's rich tradition and heritage, a smashin; good time at the 94th Annual Routt County Fair.

Look for all the latest fair information at www.routtcountyfair.org or find a fair book around town at libraries, the Extension office, the courthouse, feed stores or call Jill Delay at 276-3068.

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