The Rio Blanco County Fair has been running unofficially for a couple of weeks now, officially since Friday, and, this week, the last three days of the fair are the fun-filled, action-packed days featuring the opening of the exhibit halls, the showing and competitions with the goats, pigs, sheep and cows.
This is usually the most heavily trafficked portion of the fair, and the action and good food lead up to the final event and end of the fair — the 4-H/FFA Junior Livestock Sale, which will be held in the 4-H Barn starting at 6 p.m.
The last three days begin today at 8:30 a.m. with the swine 4-H/FFA showmanship classes and at 1 p.m. with the goat 4-H/FFA showmanship classes. As the 6 p.m. swine shows begin, the exhibit halls open for viewing, and the indoor silent auction begins.
Highlights Friday include the exhibit halls opening at 9 a.m. At the same time, the sheep 4-H/FFA showmanship classes begin, followed by the market classes and the 4-H breeding classes.
From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. is the Rio Blanco County Woolgrowers’ Lamb Kabob feed, followed by the Open Sheep Show and Orphan Lambs at 12:30 p.m.
The county Talent Show opens to sign-ups at 3 p.m. and the show runs from 4 to 6 p.m. At 5 p.m., the Rio Blanco County Stockgrowers’ Barbecue begins, coinciding with the start of the beef 4-H/FFA showmanship classes, followed by the breeding, market, open and dairy classes.
On Saturday, the exhibit halls open at 9 a.m., the same time as the silent auction bidding. At 10 a.m. is the 4-H/FFA Round Robin showmanship classes.
At 10:30 a.m. is the fun Cloverbud Show and Tell; at 11 a.m. is the Pet Rock Contest; and at 11:30 is the Rabbit Chase.
From noon to 3 p.m. is the Lil’ Buckaroo Rodeo, followed at 3:30 to 5:15 p.m. by the Meeker Lions Club’s barbecue under the main grandstands.
At 5:15 p.m. are the Presale Awards/Activities, at 5:30 is the Bake Sale and at 6 p.m., the indoor silent auction closes and the 4-H/FFA Junior Livestock Sale begins. That event closes out the fair, and after the sale the animals are released.
If you have any urge to see some of the finest animals around, the livestock sale might just be the hot spot of the week. Sometimes the sale of the grand champion and reserve champion animals can be a bit heated and head up into some big dollars being bid.
Watch out if the the top animals are split between Rangely and Meeker owners, which occurred two years ago, when big dollars were bid to buy the animals.
There are fun games, good food and some great animals to be taken in the last three days of the Rio Blanco County Fair, and a visit, particularly if you have not been to a county fair before, is usually quite a fun — and educational — time for the entire family. It doesn’t matter whether the kids are young or old.
It appears that we are solidly in the middle of monsoon season.
That is the good news — and the bad.
Rio Blanco County as a general rule had a fairly wet winter and early spring, raising the grasses and meadows and making for a pretty green early summer.
By now, a lot of those grasses have died out and dried up, making for some great kindling.
So here comes the monsoon season, that seasonal flow that starts as a Bermuda high off the coast of Florida, comes across the Gulf of Mexico, then Mexico and enters the United States usually in southwest New Mexico or southeast Arizona and heads up our way.
Monsoon means rain. Often lots of rain. It also means lightning. Often lots of lightning.
In a good year, there is a lot more rain than lightning, making the foliage impervious to the lightning.
We in Rio Blanco County have been relatively lucky so far.
We have had at least 10 fires in the county already this year, but, thankfully, they have remained small and were put out quickly. The only notable fires have been just to the north of us in Moffatt County, but even those were totally or mostly contained as of Tuesday.
But as I write this on Tuesday morning, they say we are looking at several days of rain and lightning, and I would say let’s hope our good luck continues.
The Northwest Colorado Fire Management Unit is wise, however, in issuing guidelines for people to follow if they should spot a wildland fire.
Having the public reporting fires allows us to respond quicker and work to keep incidents small, said Bureau of Land Management Assistant Fire Manager Jimmy Michels.
According to Michels, here are correct steps to take to report a fire: call 911; if you’re near the fire, move out of the fire area and monitor; account for others with you and move them to safety; state your name and phone number in case clarification or more information is necessary; give the location from which you’re seeing the fire or smoke; give location of the fire, including direction of the fire from where you’re standing; nearest road or highway; give closest landmark; note what’s burning — sagebrush, grass, trees, etc.; note fire size; if you can’t estimate an acreage, try comparing it to something like a football field; and please report if you see flames or smoke.
It doesn’t take a scientist of any kind to know that a wildland fire can get out of control quite quickly and sometimes take off on a deadly and destructive patch. Any time saved by reporting a fire is a hand up to all involved from the property owners to the fire suppressors.
If you suspect a wild fire has started in our area, please call it in to any emergency outlet, including a police department, the sheriff’s office or the BLM.
This is also a reminder to keep your body hydrated.
The temperatures have risen into the 90-degrees range already; the humidity is rising rapidly with the monsoon rains.
No matter if it is overcast or sunny, the body will shed more water on a normal day than one would imagine and even more, much more quickly, on a sunny high-humidity day.
At the altitude of Rio Blanco County, mostly between 6,000 and 9,000 feet, you take in less oxygen than at the lower altitudes and you burn more water and electrolytes.
Even if going for a drive up in the mountains or venturing to the back streams to fish and certainly if going for a hike or going camping in the nearby mountains, it is essential to take with you enough water to keep you well hydrated.
One can be guaranteed that it is easier to carry extra water than to have to deal with dehydration or sun stroke.