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MEEKER I County fair is all about the kids, and Ed and Bonnie Coryell have worked more than 30 years to keep the traditions, clubs and events alive.
Ed and Bonnie moved to Meeker in 1973 from Carbondale, Colo. Ed was working for the Strangs at the time. The Coryell’s oldest daughter, Becky (Hughes), was ready to start kindergarten and would soon be involved in the local 4-H programs with their other children, Jenn (Phelan), Pat, Lee and Andy. Ed and Bonnie simply got involved to help wherever they could.
Bonnie began in the horse program and remains an active leader. She has always headed the English riding events that her granddaughters, Sydney Hughes and Maggie Phelan, are currently involved in. She became involved in the rabbit and poultry divisions when they were offered but did not have leaders for the groups. Bonnie has donated the rabbits for the fun-filled Rabbit Chase every year since it began. She not only gave the bunnies for the kids but rounded up boxes and food to start them in their new homes. Imagining how many children have become the proud new owners of live bunnies through the years and the smiles on their faces is priceless. Bonnie has been an organizer and judge for the Round Robin, and helped with a variety of clubs wherever a leader was needed.
Ed has served on the fair board for 32 years. He served on the Meeker School Board for 25 years, was a county commissioner, has been the brand inspector since the early 1970s and was recently inducted into the Colorado High School Activities Association Hall of Fame for his nearly 50-year stint as a referee. He is also the voice of the county fair. He has helped the kids weigh in their animals for several years.
Ed and Bonnie will celebrate 45 years of marriage Nov. 11 of this year. The two have logged more volunteer hours then many contestants have lived. The remarkable thing about their volunteerism is the unconditional manner in which they provide it. It makes no difference if their children or grandchildren are involved, they are there to help all the kids. It is always obvious by their proud grins that their grandchildren’s participation is simply icing on the cake for two avid fair supporters. They are models for truly giving of themselves for kids. They have been foster parents, and the Catholic church seldom sees a Sunday Mass without the Coryells in attendance. Involvement for Ed and Bonnie has been a way of life and there are few community activities where kids are involved that Ed and Bonnie are not present.
Through the years, they have seen their children grow up to show the same type of character, from participating in sports, 4-H, and other extracurricular activities to education and ranching, their children have found success thanks to the solid foundation provided by their parents. Andy Coryell received a college scholarship to Mesa State University where he became an all-American, and later coached for Meeker High School. Jenn also coached for the Meeker School District and works alongside her husband Shane on the family ranch. Becky is well known for her teaching expertise and also volunteers with the 4-H programs and the annual sheep lead at the fair. Pat works at Westlands Lodge during the summer and his wife Mary Francis helps with the round robin horse event and lends a helping hand whenever needed. If ever there is a need for a volunteer, whether it be for the county fair, a local ball game, or just helping a neighbor, the Coryells are at the top of the list.
Ed and Bonnie were featured in the 1994 county fair book for the incredible work they have done for the county. There is no doubt, the fair wouldn’t be the same without the help and endless effort that they put into it.
This year as the fair approaches, it is the hope that the theme of the county fair remains, and everyone remembers that it is for the kids. As Bonnie said about 4-H, “It gets kids out of the house.” It teaches them responsibility, and gives them an understanding of a way of life that has made this county what it is. One goal of 4-H is to build character and teach life skills. It is always fun for the kids to win, but the true success is in completing a project, and working hard to do their best.
Bonnie and Ed have done their best for the Rio Blanco County Fair for more then 30 years, and it is an outstanding event because of their service.