The 2015 Rio Blanco County Fair is over. That is a mixed blessing because the event is fun to cover, but not a lot of fun to follow up on.
It is fun to cover because these kids of all ages work their little hearts out to prepare their entries, be it for a livestock event, photography, floriculture, painting, fashion, rodeoing, baking, canning, making dioramas, growing vegetables and a lot more.
These kids entering the fair can range in age from single digits up into their 70s and 80s, and each entrant, it is obvious, has put all they have into their work.
On the other hand, it is tough to follow up three intense days and 550 photos later. You don’t want to miss a single event, which is sometimes tough, but when it comes down to selecting roughly 30 to 40 photos to publish in the paper, it takes hours and hours to look at every electronic frame to decide which person’s photo or exhibit or animal should be in the newspaper.
It would be easy to fill the paper if you stuck with the familiar 4-H and FFA names like Collins, Lapp, Shults, Franklin, Blunt, Parker, Turner, Kennedy, Walsh, LeBlanc, Allred, etc., but there are so many other participants from both ends of Rio Blanco County that you have to find a variety of entrants to feature. You can’t possibly cover them all. And it is easy to feel sad about that because nearly every entrant put everything they had into the fair, and it is too bad that some don’t get their photos in the newspaper.
It isn’t tough to see that road crews have been busy this past week—helping to improve two sets of roads and utilizing two sets of crews.
The most obvious is the continued work along Market Street of Highway 13.
Phase I of the Market Street Project is done, Meeker Town Administrator Scott Meszaros said. That is complete, he said, except for a railing that needs to be installed on east end of town.
In addition, there is the annual “main street project” in town, Meszaros said.
While I understand a few folks didn’t even know that was going to happen until the evening before the project started, the town got in there, ground up the sides of the asphalt and pretty well got on with the project.
Meszaros said Friday that the town hoped to have that entire project, which included the full length of Third and Fifth streets, completed by 5 p.m. on Friday but that it “should certainly be complete by Monday.”
I am writing this column on Sunday, so I don’t know if it is going to be done on Monday evening, but it could. It does seem the town got right after it and got the job done in pretty good time.
Already there are signs up to welcome the hunters.
It is that time again.
While the archery opens in about two weeks, that hunt will be followed by four rifle hunts and run until the middle of November.
It seems like the archery season just isn’t as busy as the remainder of the hunts, but if that is true, it’s a bit of a shame because I have seen a lot of nice deer this year—other than in downtown Meeker—in all directions from Meeker at least.
What the hunters mean to the coffers in Meeker and Rangely is nearly invaluable. You can’t put a true dollar value on it, which I am sure is in the millions.
But those who enjoyed it last year are probably back this year and maybe will be bringing some friends. And so the cycle goes, growing and growing each year and adding more to the towns’ coffers.
The hunters stay at hotels, eat at local restaurants or even stay at one of the lodges outside of town and pay for guided hunts. They come into town for a drink or two or to buy some booze or they stop by the various businesses in the towns and buy gear, souvenirs to take home and invariably buy gas and oil for their trucks and four-wheelers.
When they have a good time, everyone they come in contact with at home knows what a great place Rio Blanco County can be. When they are met by a bunch of surly folks who act like they don’t want to be bothered, you can bet those friends and neighbors back home will hear that too—and there is a good likelihood that the original hunters won’t be back, nor, obviously, will their friends.
While living in Aspen in the mid 1970s, it was a daily practice to make fun of the “snowbirds” from Denver or Dallas or California and as far away as Florida and the Carolinas.
There was no mistaking the fact that on a daily basis they didn’t fit into the Aspen “culture.” No. 1, they didn’t know how to drive. No. 2, they did treat the employees with a bit less respect because they didn’t have the kind of money that some person from Dallas might have had. They just figured that the locals were slaves, and it got pretty tiring, even though they often asked for it, for them to battle the locals, and that caused some of the tourists to not return and some of the good employees to not return.
But then, the last winter I was in Aspen, ironically, the town started taking on the attitude to ignore the jerks visiting as much as possible because they were, after all, the ones paying the salaries of the employees in Aspen.
That last year I was there, it truly was a better experience for everyone.
The tourists were allowed their obnoxious quirks without any major problems and the employees learned that the tips and business improved when the employees treated the “snowbirds” a bit better.
Such it is in li’l ol’ Rio Blanco County. These hunters are spending a lot of money to come out here on a three-to-five-day hunt. They want to kick up their heels a bit, but if we make them feel welcome, they will enjoy it more, those folks in Rio Blanco County will enjoy it more and the entire circle continues to grow.
It means more and more money in the pockets of our family, our friends and our neighbors who rely on the hunters and other winter outdoorsmen and women who visit our town.
Let’s make these hunters most welcome. In more than one way, it will likely pay off.
It is also the time of year to urge caution on the part of motorists all over Rio Blanco County as school begins next week across the county.
More students will be walking sidewalks and crossing streets, more students will be riding their bicycles to school, more parents will be driving to deliver their children to the schools, and there will even be more students driving to the high schools and to Colorado Northwestern Community College.
Nothing is more devastating than injuring a child, or worse, and it is something one never gets over.
Nothing on earth is worth the extra speed used to get to school or even to work two minutes early, and injuring a child, having an accident with a student or even hitting mom on her way to or from school.
Slow down a little bit, take a little more time and please pay more attention at crosswalks all over town.
Patience is going to be called for, for a while longer as the Town of Meeker has started work on Phase II of the Market Street Project. Phase II will extend sidewalks along the north side of Market Street from the end of Phase I, which went from Watts Ranch Market to Fourth Street, and this part of the project will extend curbs and sidewalks all the way to 11th Street.
We would also urge again that drivers watch out for students, pedestrian and bikes as there will be some traffic changes in this area and accidents can happen and more students will be utilizing the sidewalks and crosswalks, not only along Market Street but also on the towns’ streets in Rangely and Meeker.