From My Window… As county fair unwinds, so do childhood memories

Sean McMahon, Editor
Sean McMahon, Editor
The Rio Blanco County Fair is already under way unofficially, but kicks into full gear in an official way on Monday. There’s still that part of me that looks toward the county fair – having grown up with the El Paso County Fair, the Boulder County Fair and the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo.
There are great memories of past fairs, including one time way back in the 1960s, when I went to the Colorado State Fair with my Dad to take in an afternoon rodeo performance.
I can remember — still quite vividly — the massive bull clearing the rodeo ring, and outside fence and wreaking holy terror on the cars in the parking lot for about an hour before they were able to sedate the monster and move him back inside a holding pen back by the chutes.
It is a shame that Rio Blanco County doesn’t offer a carnival and midway with numerous food booths, as that was always one of the biggest draws for this kid. There were funnel cakes and Mexican fry bread and lamb kabobs at the small fairs and every conceivable type of fried food available at the state fair.
But it was still the animals at the fair that were the biggest draw.
I had spent plenty of time around horses and cows while growing up, so they were no big deal.
But it was fun to get close to goats, pigs, sheep/lambs, chickens and rabbits. My favorite of all these were the lop-eared rabbits and the breeds of rabbit that were just huge.
It was also great to see the mammoth-sized bulls being led via rope by some person weighing 150 pounds. I used to think how easy it would be for those bulls to drag their handlers to the next county.
I have seen goats climb up onto ledges and find holes in show barns and I have seen goats eat some pretty strange stuff.
I grew up in the city but spent a lot of time on horseback at family friends’ ranches. But I never really got close to sheep or goats or even chickens and rabbits. They still offer a special “flash” back to the fairs I attended as a child.
I have heard incredible stories of what goats in particular are capable of. Sheep are really a pretty docile animal and really don’t cause a lot of excitement – unless it is time to sink my teeth into a good leg of lamb or lamb burger – or a newly found cut available only at that “big box store,” where you can find lamb breast. Yep, that is the name of the cut.
It is relatively inexpensive and is very fatty. But if you really want to know what lamb tastes like before restaurants ruin it with rosemary or some other seasoning, then the lamb breast cannot be beat.
And you can bet two of the food events I will be seeking out are the Rio Blanco County Woolgrowers’ Lamb Kabob Lunch on Friday (Aug. 2) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the Lions Club Barbecue, sponsored by the First National Bank of the Rockies, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. on Saturday (Aug. 3) under the grandstands.
There are some other non-animal-related events on the schedule that look like they will be fun to take in.
Rio Blanco County’s Got Talent, following the beef show on the evening of Aug. 2, the Pet Rock Contest at 10 a.m. on Aug. 3 offers participants a lot of leeway in creating some pretty unique and attractive works of art, and the car and motorcycle show, from noon to 3 p.m. on Aug. 3 is usually a highlight if there are as many fans of motorized conveyances in this county as I suspect there are.
Two more animal-related events I am aiming for are the Dog Star Competition at 1 p.m. on Monday and the Little Buckaroo Rodeo on Aug. 3, after the rabbit chase and the round robin livestock presentations. Both should be quite a kick.
I am still recovering from the long hours put in during Range Call, but I am looking forward to taking in the Rio Blanco County Fair – to build some more great memories.
I believe I still have room for a more giggles and fun memories to hold me for a few more years.

It looks like the fire season is not yet over.
As I write this on Monday afternoon, The Citadel Fire was located south of Maybell just over the Moffat County line, about 40 miles northwest of Meeker. That fire had burned 1,600 acres as of Monday and was being taken quite seriously. As of Monday, there were no injuries but three structures were threatened.
In Rio Blanco County, there were two blazes — the East Tschuddi and Dillon fires.
The East Tschuddi fire was reported as of Monday to have grown to 652 acres in a location about 20 miles northwest of Meeker. There have been no injuries and one building is threatened.
The Dillon Fire, located about 20 miles southwest of Rangely, was reported as burning slowly, having consumed only two acres by Monday morning. There were no reported injuries and no structures were threatened.
Thank God for the fire crews that keep appearing in Rio Blanco County and in other areas of Northwestern Colorado. These firefighters are daily performing what we already know from this year to be an always-dangerous and a sometimes-fatal service to residents of this state.
It may indeed be a long summer — even if we continue to have a variety of small fires. Heaven forbid that we have a formidable fire close to residents and higher-populated areas.
Like those firefighters we have honored from the Twin Towers in New York, to the 19 firefighters lost earlier this summer in Arizona to any more firefighters we may lose in this country before the summer is out — good luck, thank you, and God bless! You are appreciated.

There are a couple of small things I would do to help make the Herald Times more useful as a community newspaper. They will both work to enhance the paper and establish the fact that we want to announce events before they take place instead of always following up after they occur.
The second think I would love to see is an increase in the number of letters to the editor.
The first can easily be accomplished by sending an email or a flyer to at least two to three weeks before the event. Remember that we print on Wednesday afternoon and the newspaper hits the street early on Thursday.
If you have a press release or an email, please send the release or information by Friday before the week you want it in the paper, but it must be in our hands by 5 p.m. on Monday, prior to the Thursday publication date.
If whatever you want printed is not in my hands by 5 p.m. on Monday, there is a good chance it won’t see publication until the next week. This allows us just Tuesday morning to continue gathering “timely” news for the publication.
The same deadlines are enforced for letters to the editor, but for such a county filled with opinions, few folks seem willing to stand up for what they believe.
I understand that.
But very little is going to change if no one speaks out or speaks their mind regarding what they like, what they dislike or what they are observing. It is through the free exchange of ideas, proposals, criticisms and testimonials that changes come about.
And if you want to see Meeker or Rangely stay “the way they’ve always been,” then write that too. But it really pays off for a community to speak out.

The start of hunting season in Northwestern Colorado is a mere month away, and the indicators out there now are shaping up for a series of great seasons.
I have been speaking with the area wildlife managers from all parts of Northwestern Colorado, from Grand Junction to Glenwood Springs and Aspen, from Hot Springs to Granby, to Steamboat Springs and all along the Wyoming and Utah lines and they are optimistic of a good season ahead for most critters.
While deer are down generally across the state, numbers and licenses are up in a few areas around here. All managers are reporting large numbers of large elk, bears seem to be running rampant, antelope are numerous in the lower grasslands and, while permits are few in number, the numbers and forage are there for sheep, goats and mountain lions in this corner of the state.
So, whatever your prey of choice is, 2013 may be remembered for, as one wildlife manager said, ”The best hunting season in years and perhaps in the next few years to come.”

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