Whew! The Rio Blanco County Fair is over, and there are a lot of folks taking it a little easier today (Sunday), after a long stretch of tough days.
The fair events actually began July 10 with the 4-H cake decorating contest and the fashion review. Starting July 14 and ending July 21, entries were accepted at the CSU Extension Offices in Rangely and Meeker, and that included all new general 4-H project entries, applications to the Colorado State Fair and all kinds of paperwork to get their fair entries registered.
July 19 saw the 4-H County Shoot-Off at the Meeker Sportsman’s Club south of Meeker. July 21 was the date for all horse show entries to be turned in.
July 25 saw horse show entries on the track and arena and the team roping, which went late into the night.
July 26 saw the horse show and all-around competition.
Monday, July 28 produced the dog show in the morning and the dog star competition in the afternoon.
On July 29, all 4-H general projects had to check in and all beef, sheep, swine and goats could be stalled as of 5 p.m., and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. was 4-H Exhibit Day with all of the interview judging.
On July 30, health forms and weigh-in forms had to be turned in, booth assembly began, rabbit classes were held, followed by the poultry classes. At l p.m., all market animals had to be in their pens, supreme sheep and goat award interviews began and Friends of the FFA had their ice cream social. At 4 p.m. open photography entries were accepted through 8 p.m., the goat and sheep weight-ins and ultrasounds were held, followed by the beef, the goats and sheep and finally the swine (pigs). And by 8 p.m., all indoor exhibits had to be accepted and all booths needed to be assembled.
Then, on Thursday, the fair officially began.
By now, hundreds of parents, fair participants, fair organizers, judges, volunteers, score keepers, etc., had to be rounded up locally and, for many of the judges, from all over Colorado and surrounding states.
It is truly a major undertaking, all under the watchful eye of Bill Ekstrom, the CSU Extension Agent in Meeker, and his just-as-busy-wife, Kim, who were always in attendance to lend a helping hand to whoever needed one.
Of course, there were the few Extension Office assistants, but enough cannot be said about the work the group put in during the last week particularly, but during the entire month of July and well before that, working out the logistics, the staging, gathering the judges and volunteers, etc.
There were various cookouts to organize, vendor booths to make happy and, of course, when that many entries are in any event, not everyone is going to be happy with everything. So, finding solutions to problems that may arise is also a big responsibility.
Anyway, the fair is a titanic event to organize, and with the exception of one or two very slight problems that arose, everyone I spoke with — and there were a lot from Rangely and Meeker — was happy with the fair itself, the facilities and the logistics.
Not every man, woman and child I spoke with was happy with the fair judging, but that is the usual case at any large-scale event governed by subjective judging.
Funny thing though. Many of the contestants and their families were quite happy with the judging when it affected themselves or a family member with a grand champion, reserve champion, a best of show, a blue ribbon, etc. In other words, I didn’t hear many complaints from the contestants or the families of the contestants who won.
I spoke with one mother who had not-very-nice words about the judge of one of her daughter’s animal events.
The animal was sent packing early in the showmanship class, much to the chagrin of the mother. Problem was, and I was watching the judge watch the daughter and her animal, just when the animal paused for a minute and the daughter just hard-smacked her animal. It truly was a case of being in the right place at the wrong time because right after that hard swat, the judge came over and dismissed the entrant. Sorry mom. It happens!
There is one individual in particular I want to speak about, hopefully with no hard feelings or anger or any other kind of ill will for my writing this.
There are a lot of names that are synonymous with the Rio Blanco County Fair, and I am assuming some are even legendary over the many years of the fair.
Just in the two years I have covered the fair, it has been truly amazing how dominant some of the family names and some of the entrant names are that keep rising to the top as far as the livestock events are concerned.
Doggone it! I just really want to give a huge thumbs up to one contestant at the fair without hurting the feelings of all the others.
Yes, it is obvious that the names of the Franklins, the Lapps, the Shultses, the Turners, the Neilsons, the Klinglesmiths, the Rosendahls, the Wileys, the Walshes, the Kennedys, the Allreds, the Duceys and the Ahrens (and I know there are others; forgive me if the names are not listed here) just jump out whereever one looks around the fair. I am sure some of these and some other names are legendary.
But, my Most Valuable Player for this 2014 Rio Blanco County Fair has to be recently-turned 14-year-old Macy Collins.
To see her in operation is to watch a giant. To see her in reality, this girls is just short of tiny.
But she handles the sheep, swine, goats and beef like a pro. I didn’t ask, but I would guarantee she weighs 90 pounds or less. However, she handles most of these animals like a 250-pound powerhouse, as was commented on repeatedly by the livestock class judges.
Macy not only had the market champion goat and the reserve market sheep, she had her hands full of first-place, second-place and third-place ribbons in the various classes of the competition — and it seems she had an entry in just about every single class — but she also garnered top ribbons for photography and ceramics that I saw — not certain there weren’t other overall classes she competed and place in.
Livestock judge Greg Smith of Roggen, Colo., said of Macy many times before handing her another blue ribbon, “I have before my eyes a young woman who is far beyond her years in dealing with all of these animals, be it goats, sheep, pigs or beef. She handles these animals like each and every one is her best friend. She leads these animals the way they need to be led, she has had to learn the quirks of each of these animals, and through this fair, she has never been outmuscled, outwitted or been out of her element. She is truly a young lady to be proud of.”
Indeed she is. And yes, she just turned 14.
Honorable mention over the past two years — in my eyes — would go to Kolbi Franklin and Taylor Neilson.
These are three tremendous young ladies on the county fair stage, and each one has shown that it takes dedication to do what they do and that they are indeed dedicated.
An email was received Sunday from Rory Wilson, a graduate of Meeker High School who has been sailing solo from Oregon during the past several months all over the Pacific Ocean in his self-designed, self-built craft, the KROSS. Rory, the son of Sally Wilson of Meeker, just completed his several-month trip and is back at home. His update:
“KROSS sailed into the Puget Sound in a sudden evening gale on Tuesday (July 29) as a nice conclusion to a great northern passage of calms, fog and then steady westerlies. During the next few weeks, I will post photos and more details on the Facebook page, but I want to highlight just a bit of what I’ve learned.
“What a frontier! Living on the ocean in a small boat let me glimpse a natural reality that we (humans) only understand as small fragments without grasping the whole. The inter-relationships that I could see were subtle and beautiful. Our sciences are so specialized that we are really not adept at understanding how it all fits together. These past months were truly a awesome experience.
“With (the boat used on his first expedition) KROS (rowing) and KROSS (sailing), I found that, due to the aerobic levels on KROS, it was easier to effectively nap and keep a high level of functioning while rowing. On KROSS, I could not really ever seem to rest, although the sailing exertion levels were lower. Solo sailing requires a degree of constant vigilance and the resulting sleep deprivation was cumulative. I was especially interested in the cognitive changes (lower energy levels, attention difficulties, etc) due to lower aerobic levels, even though I ate mostly raw nuts, seeds and continued extensive meditation and non-aerobic workouts.
“I was also ‘testing’ whether I (and other humans by extension) could live for long periods on the ocean versus just traveling from port to port. My individual conclusion is that humans have evolved too far toward land for it to be a reality except in extreme circumstances.
“KROSS performed well in a range of conditions. The boat handling, sailing abilities and strength in a range of ocean conditions were all excellent, and, although there were some technology failures (water maker, autopilot), offshore sailing simply requires full duplicate systems for critical electronics. I had dual solar controllers and they never had a problem!
“Overall, what an experience. I am now in Home Port Marina on the Hood Canal at Pleasant Harbor, and KROSS is safely tucked in. I climbed the mast today (he wrote on Sunday) and have already cleaned and stowed the sails below. It will be interesting to let this all settle out and see what comes next.”…Rory Wilson.