As opening day for the 99th Douglas County Fair and Rodeo draws near, local officials are celebrating a tradition rich in history, culture and entertainment .
“I think it’s one of the events that brings the whole county together,” Douglas …
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“I think it’s one of the events that brings the whole county together,” Douglas County Commissioner Roger Partridge said.
Part of the beauty in the fair and rodeo, which kicks off July 29, is its widespread influence, Partridge said. Relatives visit from out-of-state to see exhibits. Parents and children work together on projects.
“Respect, the work ethic involved, the integrity, caring for something besides yourself and leadership,” Partridge said of what 4-H teaches young people in the county.
The event celebrates family, community and the area’s history, including the importance of agriculture. But most importantly, Partridge believes the fair and rodeo is about tradition.
This year’s fair and rodeo, which runs through Aug. 6 at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, 500 Fairgrounds Road in Castle Rock, includes plenty of new and exciting features.
Festivities start with a town-held cattle drive on July 28 and the Castle Rock Chamber Fair Parade the morning of July 29. The days that follow are filled with livestock shows, musical performances, rodeo events, project exhibits and a slew of entertainment options.
New this year in the livestock arena is an addition to the goat show. Fainting goats, a breed of goat that briefly faints when it is startled, have been added to the list of breeds 4-H participants may enter.
“It’s not harmful to them in any way,” fair Administrative Assistant Michelle Bartlett said of the fainting, although the spells are good for a laugh from spectators.
For the second year, the cat show will offer a way for any county resident to get involved with animal exhibits, Bartlett said. The show was added to include kids who do not have the resources, such as land, to raise larger livestock projects.
“All the animal shows that are on the first weekend are open to the public,” Bartlett said, “and we would love for people to attend those.”
A perk for members of the public attending livestock shows, or simply wandering through the barns to see the goats, swine and cattle, is to observe how close a family can be to the animals. Bartlett hopes people interact with the exhibitors, who are very open to answering questions.
“It’s a really great learning experience because they start to understand where their food comes from,” fair board member John Carson said of children who attend with their families.
When it comes to other kinds of entertainment, which Bartlett helps oversee, there will be plenty for people to enjoy.
“This year I’m very excited about the lineup,” she said of musical performances. “We have very good bands and most of them are local.”
Whether it be on the Midway Stage or in the exhibitor buildings, she recommends people tune in to popular acts like country music group Dustin Devine and the Real Deal, who perform Aug. 3 at 9 p.m. on the Midway Stage. There’s also former American Idol finalist and Colorado native Richie Law, who will perform with his band the Southern Routes at the Aug. 5 barn dance.
Fairgoers also can check out karate demonstrations, pie-eating contests, dance groups and Darrell Mangum, a skilled storyteller and member of the Utah Storytelling Guild. He performs Aug. 4 and Aug. 5 at the Vendor EXPO Stage.
Douglas County Fair Board Chair Pam Spradlin says people shouldn’t overlook the open class section of the fair. From photography, fine arts, canning, baking and crafts to quilting, there are not only a multitude of creative entries for fairgoers to view but also many ways for people of any age to enter their projects for judging.
Carson noted open class is a great venue for people with backyard gardens to get involved.
Carson, who has served as a director on the fair board for 19 years, said he’s seen a lot of change and growth in the fair during those years. He was around when the fair first began charging general admission in 1998 to financially support its operation. He’s seen ticket sales move to an online platform, and various forms of innovations.
But, always, he said, the fair has provided good value in entertainment: The tradition appeals to people more often than they expect.
“Once they come and sample it,” Carson said, “they’ll come back.”
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