JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald
JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald
The 64th La Plata County Fair that starts Wednesday again will be a combination of the old and the new.
Youngsters from 4-H clubs will show sheep, swine, rabbits and goats; adults will exhibit quilts, needlework and culinary skills; and entertainment such as the demolition derby, the tractor pull and the carnival will thrill.
But a timely new activity, the Handyman Olympics, sponsored by Kroeger’s Ace Hardware, is making its debut.
The handyman games, limited to 60 participants age 16 or older, involve performing eight handyman tasks in the shortest time possible.
Among the skills tested will be sawing a 2-by-4 in half, inserting drywall screws, installing a faucet, pounding nails and measuring three dowels and adding the lengths.
First prize in the contest is a Stihl chain saw. Registration is being taken at the hardware store in Town Plaza. Kroeger’s will supply the tools.
There’ll be more going on in the poultry barn this year with the return of an incubator that will allow visitors to watch chicks hatch, poultry chairman Kacey Chadborn said.
“I converted a Coca-Cola cooler with a glass door into an incubator,” Chadborn said. “We’ll have hatching eggs timed to produce chicks Thursday, Friday and Saturday, although I can’t guarantee at what time.”
The incubator was sidelined last year because the eggs he got hadn’t been fertilized, Chadborn said.
The rooster-crowing contest, which draws 10 to 15 competitors every year, will take place on Saturday.
Melinda Wood, who is in charge of concessionaires, said more vendors than in recent years want to exhibit their wares.
“I’m trying to accommodate 10 more vendors,” Wood said. “There are the old regulars like the lemonade stand, but this is the first time that all tractor manufacturers will be here.”
Among first-time exhibitors, Wood said, will be the Durango Food Bank, which wants to explain its mission and solicit donations; a Texas-based purveyor of Middle Eastern food such as stuffed grape leaves and falafel; and an Estes Park company that sells many deep-fried fair staples such as corn dogs and pickles.
The newcomers take the place of events such as the rodeo and bull-riding competition that have been dropped.
One-participant-driven event that saved itself was the corn-husking contest.
Lorene Bonds said that during the years, fewer and fewer parents of 4-H members ended up husking the corn used for the 4-H barbecue.
About five years ago, her son, Troy, suggested making the chore a contest and awarding prizes, Bonds said.
“It turned a couple of hours of work into minutes,” she said. “The only thing we watch for now are contestants who try to slip some of their unhusked ears into a competitor’s basket.”
Whether its attractions are old hat or original, the fair is about people.
“The fair builds spirit in the community,” said board president Randy McKee. “The 4-H component is great not only for youngsters in agriculture, but also in other activities.”
Shirley Reinhardt, a fair board member for about 35 years and the only one who’s served longer than McKee, said the event gains new adherents annually.
“We see new people and entries every year and we see people we may not have seen for years,” said Reinhardt, who has led the Oxford 4-H Club since 1965.
Reinhardt would like to see more competitors for the Homemaker of the Year competition, which requires exhibits of needlework, clothing, baked goods and food preservation.
“I’d like to make a pitch for volunteers,” Reinhardt said. “We need volunteers, even if it’s for a couple of hours.”