Stephanie Martin, of First Impressions of Routt County, and a friend’s daughter, Avery Albertini, admire the prize-winning metal sculpture by Troy Allen, of the Elk River Valley, during the Routt County Fair on Friday in Hayden. Allen, a professional welder, created a horse entirely of horseshoe nails. His work earned him the Superintendent’s Award given to the most outstanding exhibit in the hall.

Photo by Tom Ross

Stephanie Martin, of First Impressions of Routt County, and a friend’s daughter, Avery Albertini, admire the prize-winning metal sculpture by Troy Allen, of the Elk River Valley, during the Routt County Fair on Friday in Hayden. Allen, a professional welder, created a horse entirely of horseshoe nails. His work earned him the Superintendent’s Award given to the most outstanding exhibit in the hall.

Tom Ross: Cabbage patch takes over Routt County Fair

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Tom Ross

Tom Ross' column appears in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com.

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You have until 2 p.m. Sunday to set eyes on one of the biggest zucchinis Routt County has ever produced.

The 12-pound squash is on display in the produce section of the Routt County Fair Exhibit Hall and was grown by a junior entrant, Teagann Yeager, of Clark.

Family and Consumer Science Extension Agent Karen Massey said homegrown vegetables represent the biggest growth area in the Exhibit Hall this year. Nice pun, Karen.

“We’ve had a good growing season,” she added.

Specifically, it was a very good year for cabbage. Think coleslaw — lots and lots of coleslaw.

Mike Lang won a ribbon for best adult crop exhibit with a cabbage bigger than a human head. And veteran gardener Angelo Iacovetto took a grand champion ribbon with another cabbage grown in North Routt.

It’s no surprise that root vegetables do well in Routt County’s frequently frosty summers, but I’ve never seen anything like the giant turnip at the fair. There also are some very fine cloves of garlic on display.

Of course, veggies aren’t all there is to see in the Exhibit Hall. One of the qualities I like best about this portion of the Routt County Fair is that all exhibits are welcome, from vacation photos to painted rocks. If you made it and you’re proud of it, then your arts and crafts, prepared foods and hobbies are welcome at the fair.

Some of this year’s exhibits rise to the level of fine art.

Troy Allen’s metal horse, a three-dimensional sculpture the size of a living pony, was made entirely of welded horseshoe nails, and its creation spanned two years. It received the prestigious Superintendent’s Award, voted on by fair workers as the most outstanding exhibit of the entire fair. Don’t miss what could be your only chance to see it.

Massey said Jackie Grim­aldi’s quilt “American Spirit” wowed the judges of the Colorado Quilting Council who are accustomed to critiquing the work of professionals.

“We had so many quilt entries of high quality this year,” Massey said. “The judges were very impressed.”

Grimaldi’s quilt, which won an award of excellence, depicts an eagle on a tree branch, a moose and a North American bison.

The versatile Grimaldi also won a grand champion ribbon for a carefully nurtured cactus garden in a galvanized tub.

Clients of Horizons Spec­ialized Services entered one of the most creative exhibits in the baked goods section of the fair. They created a beetle-killed forest out of pillars of chocolate cake studded with straight pretzels. The salty snacks evoke the bare branches that dominate parts of the Routt National Forest.

Finally, when it came to Robert Moore’s woodworking skills, the judges and I agreed. Moore’s infant cradle made of cherry and walnut wood represents the epitome of craftsmanship.

There’s a lot to see at the 96th annual Routt County Fair, but don’t dawdle. The exhibitors are free to begin taking home their entries at 2 p.m. Sunday.

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