Paige Barnes, left, and Kaitlyn Hayes wait to compete in a round of an open horse show Sunday at the Routt County Fairgrounds in Hayden as Keenan Hayes holds the first place ribbon he won at the competition earlier in the day. Sunday's horse show was one of several events leading up to the opening of the Routt County Fair on Thursday.

Photo by Scott Franz

Paige Barnes, left, and Kaitlyn Hayes wait to compete in a round of an open horse show Sunday at the Routt County Fairgrounds in Hayden as Keenan Hayes holds the first place ribbon he won at the competition earlier in the day. Sunday's horse show was one of several events leading up to the opening of the Routt County Fair on Thursday.

97th annual Routt County Fair kicks off Thursday

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— The 97th annual Routt County Fair will revive an event that once lured contestants to the Yampa Valley from as far away as Alabama but hasn’t filled the fairground’s grand stands for more than a decade.

On Sunday, horses once again will race on the oval track in Hayden.

“That’s what started the fair in 1914,” Fair Coordinator Jill Delay said. “We’re getting back to our roots.”

Fair organizers have been busy revitalizing the track that first was graded and sloped on the fairgrounds by a pair of mules 97 years ago, and this year’s races will join a long roster of events that includes livestock shows, barbecues, a chain saw carving demonstration, a Rocky Mountain oyster fry and live music.

“We like to think of it as a big, social gathering,” Delay said. “This fair is not like a fair in Adams County or Denver. It’s a small community here, and that’s what we’re trying to honor.”

Although the fair doesn’t officially start until Thursday, there already were signs of life at the fairgrounds Sunday as spectators huddled under umbrellas to watch riders showcase their Western skills under light rain.

Sitting on his horse clutching a first-place ribbon he won at the open horse show, it wasn’t hard for Keenan Hayes to remember how many years he’s been coming to the Routt County Fair in Hayden; the eight-year-old just had to remember how old he was.

“I’m looking forward to winning a lot of buckles and watching the demolition derby again,” he said. “It’s fun and exciting.”

The horse show was one of several events this week leading up to the official start of the county fair on Thursday, a gathering Delay said would keep the community and children like Hayes busy.

“The only thing you’re going to pay for at the fair is the funnel cakes, the Waddie Mitchell show and the demolition derby,” Delay said.

Fair Board Vice President Don Hayes said things would only get busier this week.

During the next few days, the fair’s Exhibit Hall will be stocked with the homemade crafts of more than 1,300 contestants.

“There’s a lot of pride in this building and on these grounds,” Hayes said. “When people walk in on Thursday, they’ll be amazed.”

97th annual Routt County Fair schedule

(OA: Outdoor arena; MPB: Multipurpose Building; EX: Exhibit Hall; F: Field; SAB: Small Animal Barn; T: Track; DC: Dry Creek Park)

■ Monday

8 a.m. 4H ranch horse versatility (OA)

9 a.m. 4H dog show (F)

3 p.m. 4H English show (OA)

6 p.m. 4H Gymkhana immediately follows English (OA)

■ Tuesday

8 a.m. to 6 p.m. 4H/National FFA Organization livestock stalling (MPB)

9 a.m. 4H horse show (OA)

4:30 to 6 p.m. Rabbit and poultry check-in (SAB)

6 p.m. 4H roping (OA)

7 to 8 p.m. Swine weigh-in (MPB)

■ Wednesday

10 a.m. to noon Steer, sheep and goat weigh-in (MPB)

10 a.m. to noon Rabbit and poultry check-in (SAB)

1 to 8 p.m. Home arts check-in (EH)

3 p.m. Swine showmanship (MPB) market swine immediately follows showmanship (MPB)

5 to 7 p.m. FFA alumni fundraiser barbecue — all are welcome (MPB)

6:30 p.m. Jackpot roping (OA)

7 to 7:30 p.m. Ice cream social (MPB east door)

■ Thursday

Exhibition Hall, vendors and midway open, inflatable rides

8 a.m. 4H rabbit and poultry show (SAB) open rabbit and poultry immediately following 4H show (SAB)

9 a.m. Home arts judging begins (EH)

1 p.m. 4H goat show (MPB)

1:30 p.m. Bum lamb contest (MPB)

2 p.m. 4H breeding sheep (MPB)

3 p.m. Sheep showmanship (MPB) market lamb immediately follows showmanship (MPB)

6 p.m. Rocky Mountain oyster fry (grandstands) $5 a plate

7 p.m. Cowboy poet Waddie Mitchell, tickets required (T)

■ Friday

All inflatable rides are free until 5 p.m. courtesy of Peabody Energy, Twentymile Coal Co. Chain saw carving demo all day with a silent auction for finished products. Exhibition Hall, vendors and midway open.

8 a.m. Exhibit Hall opens

9 a.m. 4H/FFA lama show (MPB)

9:30 a.m. Dress your animal (MPB) sheep lead immediately follows dress your animal (MPB)

9 a.m. to noon Cloverbud for a day

11 a.m. Bucket calf contest (MPB)

Noon 4H/FFA Dairy/beef breeding show (MPB)

2 p.m. Beef showmanship (MBP) market beef immediately follows showmanship (MPB)

6 p.m. Wine and beer contest (EH)

7:30 p.m. Smith Towing Demolition Derby with live music, tickets required (OA)

■ Saturday

Chain saw carving demo all day with a silent auction for finished products. Exhibition Hall, vendors and midway open, inflatable rides.

8 a.m. Exhibit Hall opens

10 a.m. Lion’s Club Parade, downtown Hayden

11 a.m. 4H/FFA round robin showmanship (MPB)

11:30 a.m. Mutton Bustin’ (T) calf/bull riding immediately follows Mutton Bustin’ (OA)

Noon Community Agriculture Alliance horse shoe pitching contest (F)

1 p.m. Open Gymkhana (OA)

3:30 p.m. 4-H Presale/Bobby Robinson memorial barbecue and entertainment (F)

5:30 p.m. Junior livestock sale (MPB)

8:30 p.m. midnight Peabody Energy, Twentymile Coal Co. barn dance featuring One Mile South (F)

■ Sunday

Exhibition Hall, vendors and midway open, inflatable rides

8 a.m. Exhibit Hall opens

9 a.m. Pretty baby contest (EH)

9 a.m. Chuck Fulton memorial open draft horse contest (OA) team pull auction (T) Flattops Ranch Supply team pull competition immediately follows auction (T)

10 a.m. Mayor’s brownie contest and commissioners’ cookie basket contest (EH)

10 a.m. Coloring contest judging (EH)

12:30 p.m. Ranch rodeo team auction (T)

1 p.m. Ranch rodeo (OA)

1 p.m. Mutton Bustin’ (T) calf/bull riding immediately follows Mutton Bustin’(OA)

1 p.m. Mountain Valley Bank Ranch Rodeo (OA)

2 p.m. Hunters Hot Shots horse races (T) adopt-a-pig immediately following horse races, pre-entry required

2 to 6 p.m. Open class payout, exhibits released (EH)

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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