Historic cookbook spices up 99th Routt County Fair

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— The 99th Routt County Fair begins Friday night with the open horse show, and already, fair organizers are peeking ahead one year to the centennial celebration of the fair that was first held in 1914.

Organizer Nancy Mucklow said Monday the fair will debut a 100th anniversary cookbook this year. It is intended to raise funds to improve the exhibition hall in Hayden in time for the 2014 centennial edition of the fair.

“We’ve been working on the book for three years,” Mucklow said. “We’ve tested the majority of the 698 recipes. We think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

The title of the book will be “Fair Family Favorites, Celebrating 100 Years of the Routt County Fair.”

The book retails for $20 and will be unveiled at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 15 in the exhibit hall.

In addition to recipes for family meals that span the 100 years of the fair, readers will find pioneer formulas for lye soap, livestock liniment and cleaning supplies.

The fair begins to pick up steam Aug. 12 with the dog show at 9 a.m. and a gymkhana at 6 p.m. that tests the skills of horses and riders. Events continue through Aug. 18.

4-H livestock exhibits dominate the many contest categories at the fair, but the home arts exhibit might reflect a greater diversity of participation, from children making their first attempt at tooling leather to grandmothers entering quilts and men turning in prize-winning home brew.

For gardeners hoping to bring home their first blue ribbon for their produce, there’s hopeful news. Eileen Grover, who won the Helen Sherrod Outstanding Home Artist Award in 2012, won’t be as dominant in the produce competitions.

“Last year I entered flowers from my garden, an orchid that bloomed right at fair time, bunches of vegetables – lettuces, spinach, root vegetables, kohlrabi, zucchini and potatoes,” Grover said. “But I’m recovering from back surgery, and I was told no gardening this year. So, I’ll be helping out at the exhibit hall and entering some jams and jellies.”

Jackie Grimaldi, who won several awards for her art quilts in 2012, is back and a big fan of the fair.

“I’m such a proponent of these fairs. They're getting smaller and smaller, and I think this county fair is so important," Grimaldi said. "I love to see the little kids come in with their Lego projects. They’re all so proud.”

Grimaldi shared the Colorado Quilt Council Award of Excellence with Madeleine Vail last year and took home the judge’s choice award. This year, she will enter a quilt called “Swan Lake,” and a wall hanging depicting two chickens and a pair of Holstein cows. She named it “Chickengate.” She will also debut a quilt made of neckties with important dates from her extended family embroidered on the ties.

Events on the fair calendar include sheep and goat classes on Aug. 15, capped by the Ranch Rumpus at 7 p.m. The beef showmanship competition is 2 p.m. Aug. 16 followed by the Bridgestone Tires Demolition Derby at 7:30 p.m.

The Lion’s Club Parade begins at 10 a.m. Aug. 17 in downtown Hayden. Register by calling 970-276-1600.

Mucklow said she has visited numerous county fairs in Colorado during the last few years and is convinced the Routt County Fair is among the best.

“We have generations of families still involved,” Mucklow said. “I feel strongly that it’s something special you don’t get just anywhere.”

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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