From My Window: OHV gathering benefits county; fair starts slowly; towns hear truth

Sean McMahon, Editor
Sean McMahon, Editor
My windows were pretty clear over the weekend, and off-highway vehicles (OHVs) could be seen visiting all parts of Rio Blanco County from the mountains to the east of Meeker to the areas north and south of Rangely—toward Grand Junction and Piceance Creek to the south and up toward Dinosaur to the north.

Last week’s OHV conference drew more than 70 drivers and the Rendezvous itself drew well in excess of 100 drivers. They made their way to all parts of the county, often utilizing a series of maps provided by Rio Blanco County and Rendezvous organizers, and they contributed a bunch to the county coffers through restaurant stops in Rangely and Meeker, through hotel stays, through fuel purchases and more than just a few were seen frequenting local businesses.
Started quietly about two years ago, the annual OHV conference and Rendezvous seems to have caught on and is rapidly increasing popularity with Colorado riders as well as those from surrounding states.
It is a welcome site to see the hotels and restaurants fill up each summer weekend, and while the fall and winter in Rio Blanco County seem to focus on hunting, the list of activities in the county during the summer just seems to be growing.
A lot of people around Rio Blanco County once again volunteer time, supplies and hands-on work to make the weekend a success for the OHV riders. Once again, without the volunteers, it would have been difficult to put on the weekend’s events.
The OHV rodeo was a great concept, and, if you survived the downpour, the rainfall made it an even more entertaining event to watch.
Many of the riders I spoke to on the courthouse lawn on Saturday said they were having a great time. They all commented on how beautiful Rio Blanco County is and every single one said they would return for next year’s event.
Between the Eastern Rio Blanco Metropolitan Recreation and Park District’s Appreciation Day on Saturday and the OHV events, it was another active, fun-filled weekend in Rio Blanco County, and, once again, Rio Blanco County rose to the occasion and took care of its residents and visitors.

The Rio Blanco County Fair had a soft opening on Saturday with the 4-H County Shoot-off and continued with fashion judging on Tuesday along with 4-H cake decorating.
Action resumes Friday with some of the horse classes and the beginning of the team roping.
Saturday will feature the annual horse show and all-around championships at the Rio Blanco County Fairgrounds, and another family favorite on Monday has the dog show at 9 a.m. followed by the Dog Star Competition at 1 p.m. in the 4-H Building.
On Tuesday, the exhibit halls are closed all day, but all 4-H exhibits are due in by 8:30 a.m. for set-up.
On Wednesday, poultry and rabbits weigh-ins and booth assembly will take place and all market animals must be in their stalls by noon. Wednesday afternoon will be weigh-ins for goat and sheep, beef and pork, and open photography entries are encouraged to be entered between 4 and 8 p.m.
Also on Wednesday, from 6 to 8 p.m., indoor exhibits are accepted, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. is the 4-H Barnyard Olympics, and booth assembly should be completed by 8 p.m.
Most of these aforementioned events are preliminary actions and not part of the participant events, with most of the “real” fair action beginning on Thursday, July 30, with many final entries due and the start of the market and open classes for the livestock.
The fair will be working fast and furious from July 30 (Thursday) through Saturday Aug. 1, when the fair concludes, except for entrants who have thank-you notes and record books to submit.

Now that we have the Rio Blanco County Economic Development Strategy, Phase I- Community Assessment reports for Rangely and Meeker, we have a pretty clear picture of how we measure up with the pros and cons of attracting growth and expansion to the two towns.
Slow, controlled growth is a great thing, even for small mountain communities.
No one wants to see either Rangely or Meeker grow into a Grand Junction over night, but some controlled growth would be a good thing for many reasons.
The reports show the pluses and minuses that benefit or detract from the communities’ appeal to outsiders —large and small—from locating or relocating here.
There are still those who want no growth because “we like it just the way it is and has been,” but that is an unrealistic attitude if Meeker or Rangely are ever to prosper.
Those who seem to want little or no change are not those folks who are struggling to make a living for themselves and their families; they are the folks who have been long established here, are comfortable and not trying to eke out a living.
The reports for both towns laid out some good suggestions on how to improve things and how to draw more residents and even tourist visitors.
Those suggestions are not going to become a reality overnight because they will take time, a lot of money, citizen buy-in and volunteerism to see that even some of the suggestions become reality.
Both towns have tremendous potential for positive, small, controlled growth, and all aspects of the small community life would be enhanced if that growth became a reality.
It would also reduce the county’s reliance on mineral severance taxes, which are a reality that has kept this county going “like it has been,” but which may have seen its best days.
I hope that all folks will take the time to read the reports for Meeker and Rangely in this week’s paper and consider that there are things that can be done without ruining the small town life while enhancing the communities and the small businesses we so much rely on now, but which we miss when they are gone because we didn’t support them.