Our View: County Fair teaches life lessons


Editorial Board, June 2009 to September 2009

  • Suzanne Schlicht, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Mike Lawrence, city editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Grant Fenton, community representative
  • Paul Strong, community representative

Contact the editorial board at (970) 871-4221 or editor@steamboatpilot.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

The 95th annual Routt County Fair couldn't come at a better time for our community.

In the midst of a recession that has pulled the rug out from under our local housing market, job market and economy, it's refreshing and encouraging to see that the roots of life in the Yampa Valley still are strong and vibrant. Residents and visitors to the valley should take the time to attend the fair this week, for any number of compelling reasons. Routt County youths show maturity beyond their years in spending countless hours preparing their animals - training, exercising, feeding and grooming them - for show and sale at the fair. Routt County adults spend countless hours of their own canning fruits, growing vegetables, sewing quilts and pursuing hobbies that grow into passions, the results of which are on display at the fair starting this afternoon in the home arts competitions.

Events culminate during the weekend at the Routt County Fairgrounds in Hayden and include a barn dance, mutton bustin', live music, an open horseshoe pitching contest, vendors, a "bounce house" and trampoline for children, a downtown parade, calf riding, freestyle reining and much more.

The Junior Livestock Sale is at 5 p.m. Saturday in the fairgrounds' Multipurpose Building. An annual highlight, the livestock sale has drawn concern this year from 4-H supporters, who fear the recession could drop sale prices at the auction.

Local youths net about $900 for beef, sheep, swine and goat projects, according to a 2008 survey. Much of that money goes toward college funds or for next year's livestock projects that further boost savings for youths.

In June, 4-H Agent Jay Whaley said participant numbers have increased this year across livestock categories. That means more children will be selling animals - and learning the business side of raising animals for market - at a time when buyers could have less to spend.

4-H worked with Dean Vogelaar, president of the Steamboat Springs branch of Mountain Valley Bank, to set up a "stimulus fund" for children selling animals. But more help likely is needed.

"4-H, FFA is what this community has been about for longer than it's been a resort community," sale organizer John Kerst said in June. "And we treasure this Western heritage that we have, and a lot of these kids are part of it."

North Routt resident Garret McCullar, 11, sent a letter to this newspaper - one of many letters sent to businesses by local youths - as a reminder about the auction.

"This is my second year participating in the fair with my horses and my first showing and selling a market animal," Garret wrote, showing an early affinity for salesmanship. "I have been working very hard getting my Berkshire pig, Bridges, ready for fair. I am very excited to show and participate in the livestock auction. My market swine will be available for purchase at the barbecue and auction."

The barbecue is at 3 p.m. Saturday, followed by the auction at 5 p.m. at the fairgrounds. A barn dance with music by Redline begins at 8:30 that night.

The Routt County Fair, this year themed "Alive at 95," provides a broad look at the agricultural lifestyle that is the foundation of our valley. It's not to be missed. Here's to this year's fair and to 95 more.


Andy Wirth 7 years, 8 months ago

I have been in the community for over twenty five years now and all three of my great kids have been involved in 4H and the county fair for much of that time. This "Our View" piece and today's front page article are both really great. We should all truly celebrate our community's nearly century long traditions of skiing AND agriculture heritage and what better way than supporting the County Fair! The lessons my children have learned through working with livestock and being in 4H have been invaluable. Thanks to CJ Mucklow, Jay Whaley and the County for their tremendous support of this outstanding event.


upstream 7 years, 8 months ago

I sure hope the editorial board makes certain to have copious fair coverage- the youngsters and their animals, the artists, growers and homemakers- these folks are the heart and soul of Routt County. No expensive summer vacations and camps for these kids- just a boat load of hard work and hard earned pride. Make it a point to get out there and be amazed!


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