Fair will open Monday: events now under way

RBC I The annual Rio Blanco County Fair, which offers animal lovers many chances to get close to domesticated animals, officially opens Monday, but there are a number of fair events that occur prior.
While county residents and visitors will have all the time they need to see cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, rabbits and poultry, the team roping Friday at 6 p.m. and the horse show and all-around competition beginning Saturday at 8:30 a.m. open the spectator events for the fair.
“Many events actually take place before the start of the fair because so many of the kids are in multiple events,” said Kim Ekstrom. “We can’t fit all the events into four days, so we have to start early.”
Some of the earlier events included the fashion review clinic, the 4-H cake decorating contest and the 4-H county shoot-off.
The first major shows to kick off the fair will be the dog show in the 4-H building at 9 a.m. on Monday.
On Tuesday, there are no special events as vendor-booth construction and bedding in of the animals are the order of the day.
Wednesday will see the rabbit and poultry classes with rabbit classes starting at 10 a.m., followed immediately by the poultry classes. Also on Wednesday, at 1 p.m., are the supreme sheep and goat award interviews, all taking place in the 4-H building. The afternoon will be busy with animal weigh-ins until 5 p.m., when the 4-H Pork Barbecue will be held – the public is invited.
On Thursday, notable activities include swine 4-H/FFA showmanship classes at 8:30 a.m., goat 4-H/FFA showmanship classes followed by market classes and open classes, all beginning at 1 p.m.; and the swine open show followed immediately by 4-H/FFA market classes, all beginning at 6 p.m.
Showmanship classes have the judges taking a look at the kids’ handling and presentation of their animals and less at the animals. The marketing, breeding and open stock classes have the judges looking more at the animals than the presenters.
Also on Thursday, the exhibit halls open from 6 to 9 p.m. so visitors can view all the displays and entries; also at 6 p.m., all baked goods not in the auction are released to the entrants and the indoor silent auction begins.
On Friday (Aug. 2) from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., the exhibit halls are open for viewing. At 9 a.m. are the sheep 4-H/FFA showmanship classes followed by the 4-H/FFA breeding classes. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. is the Rio Blanco County Woolgrowers’ Lamb Kabob Lunch; then at 12:30 is the open sheep show and orphan lambs. The beef 4-H/FFA showmanship classes begin at 6 p.m. followed by the breeding, market, open and dairy-open.
Wrapping up Friday activities and following the 6 p.m. beef show is the Rio Blanco County’s Got Talent show.
There are also a number of events open to everyone, starting with the dog star competition on Monday at 1 p.m. Others include: the sheep lead on Aug. 2 at at 3 p.m.; the Rio Blanco County’s Got Talent show on Aug. 2 (no exact time given but it will follow the beef 4-H/FFA show beginning at 6 p.m.); the pet rock contest at 10 a.m. on Aug. 3 in the parking lot; the Little Buckaroo Rodeo on Aug. 3, (no exact time given, but it will follow the rabbit chase and round robin in the indoor arena beginning at 12:30 p.m.; and the car and motorcycle Show from noon to 3 p.m. on the fairgrounds track on Aug. 3.
Saturday will see the exhibit halls open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.. At 10 a.m. is the 4-H/FFA round robin in which the contestants each must show beef, pork, sheep and goats regardless of their specialty; also at 10 a.m. is the Pet Rock Contest, which will be held in the parking lot.
At 12:30 p.m. is the rabbit chase, when the kids are turned loose in the outdoor arena and the kids get to keep the rabbits they catch. Following this event is the Little Buckaroo Rodeo, always a crowd favorite featuring young kids from around Rio Blanco County.
From 11 a.m. to noon is the car show check-in, followed from noon to 3 p.m. with the annual car show, which will be held on the fairgrounds track.
At 3 p.m. will be the 4-H rocket launch at Paintbrush Park, and that leads up to the last major events of the fair — the pre-sale awards/activities at 5:15 p.m. in the indoor arena, then the 4-H/FFA junior livestock sale — the main event of the fair — when many of the award-winning animals from the fair will be auctioned off to the public.
According to Clint Shults, a volunteer leader with 4-H for 21 years, the auction of last year’s grand champion brought in more than $12,000, eclipsing the previous fair record of roughly $7,200.
Also from 6 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, the fair releases the premiums and the indoor exhibits.
The fairgrounds will reopen at 7 a.m. on Aug. 4 so participants can remove all their exhibits and animals from the fairgrounds.
For the 4-H, the Rio Blanco County Fair is the end of the season, Shults said, unless the 4-Hers want to go on to exhibit at the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo, later this summer.