RIDGWAY – It’s time to bid a fond “fair-well” to summer this weekend at the 2012 Ouray County Labor Day Fair and Rodeo.
The Ouray County Fair, a prelude to the lively Labor Day doin’s at the rodeo arena, has been a tradition here for more than a century. This year’s theme is “Living the Western Dream the Ouray County Way,” submitted by Brynn Felburg, whose drawing is featured on the fair book cover.
Fair action gets underway Thursday, Aug. 30, at the 4-H Event Center as exhibitors of all ages arrive to register their fair entries from 9 a.m. until noon. Open Class categories run the gamut from baked, canned, and dried foods to arts and crafts, photography, floriculture and produce.
There is also a special pie baking contest sponsored by JH Enterprises, with cash awards in senior and junior divisions for the yummiest entries.
Pick up a fair book at the fairgrounds office in the 4-H Event Center to see the full onslaught of classification listings.
Judging takes place that afternoon, and the exhibits will be on display through Saturday.
Also at the fairgrounds on Thursday, the annual 4-H horse show starts at 8 a.m. Young equestrians compete in Western and English divisions and show their stuff in timed events including barrel races, pole bending, flag races and more.
Be sure to come back with your camera that evening at 6 p.m. for the annual Antique Tractor Pull hosted by the Thunder Mountain Flywheel Club. This fun competition features over 30 tractors dating back to 1955 or earlier, in various states of (dis)repair, and the equally photogenic men and women who drive them. Food and beverages will be available.
Starting on Friday at 12:30 p.m. and continuing through Saturday, a time-honored spectacle unfolds as local children, clad in blue jeans, cowboy boots and outsized belt buckles, gather at the 4-H Barn at the Ouray County Fairgrounds for the annual 4-H Fair.
The barn, adjacent to Highway 550 just south of Ridgway, sits vacant for most of the year. But Labor Day weekend is the time that it comes alive once again with swine, sheep, goats, steers, heifers, chickens, rabbits, horses and bucket-calves that the children have hand-raised over the past year through the 4-H Program.
There’s no better way to gain appreciation for Ouray County’s colorful ranching heritage.
While the 4-H program is active throughout the year, the annual fair represents the culmination of a year's worth of hard work for its participants. Children show animals that they purchased as babies and hand-raised to market weight at their own expense, in preparation for the livestock sale that takes place on Saturday afternoon. Ideally, the animals are sold at a premium, helping the kids to make good on their investment and save some money for college.
One of the hardest parts of participating in 4-H, for many kids, is coming to terms with what happens to their animal after the livestock sale – market class animals are slaughtered for their meat.
According to the Ouray County Fair Board, there are a number of ways to approach buying an animal at the livestock sale.
Participants can bid on an animal for their own meat locker and have it butchered at a meat processor of their choosing. Alternatively, they can consign a purchase back to any auction barn for resale, or donate it back to the 4-H Council or another organization. Finally, bidders can team up with other individuals, families, businesses or organizations to split the cost of an animal.
To learn more about how to participate in the livestock sale, see the 2012 Ouray County Fair Book or call 970/626-3304.
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Ouray County Fair & Rodeo, 2012
“Living the Western Dream, the Ouray County Way”
Schedule of Events
Thursday, Aug. 30
8 a.m. Horse Show begins, fairgrounds arena in front of the grandstands.
9 a.m.-noon: Open Class Entries fair registration at the 4-H Event Center exhibition hall.
9 a.m.-noon: Pie Baking Contest registration, 4-H Event Center exhibition hall
1 p.m. Judging begins for Open Class entries.
6 p.m. Tractor pull, fairgrounds
Friday, Aug. 31
9 a.m.- 6 p.m. Exhibit Hall open
12:30 p.m. Poultry and rabbit judging
2 p.m.Goats, breeding beef, yaks and bucket calf judging
6 p.m.Swine show
Saturday, Sept. 1
8 a.m. Dog show
9 a.m.-5 p.m. Exhibit Hall open
9 a.m. Sheep and beef judging begins
1:30 p.m. Round Robin showmanship and Best Fitted
3:15 p.m. Parade of champions
3:30 p.m. Livestock auction
Sunday, Sept. 2
1 p.m.PRCA sanctioned rodeo. Family Day – Family of 4 admitted for $20
9 p.m.Fireman’s Dance benefitting the Ridgway Volunteer Fire Dept. Ridgway Fire House, 421 North Railroad St.
Monday, Sept. 3
9 a.m. Parade line-up begins at Ridgway Elementary School
10 a.m. Labor Day Parade down Sherman Street in Ridgway
11 a.m. Barbecue at Ridgway’s Hartwell Park
1 p.m. CPRA sanctioned rodeo