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Come one, come all: La Plata County Fair returns with full roster of events

Highlights include carnival, Demolition Derby and livestock auction
Hayden Farnam, 9, helps Jordyn Lott, 14, put up panels on Tuesday in the Pavilion for her cows, Jessica and Raymond, while setting up for the La Plata County Fair. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Three years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the La Plata County Fair is back in full force this year, with a full slate of events, competitions and a carnival.

The fair starts Wednesday and runs through Sunday.

The theme this year is “Red, White and Moo” – a play on words chosen to celebrate patriotism and pay homage to the county’s tradition in agriculture and ranching.

Plus: “It rhymes with (20)22,” said La Plata County Fair Board Treasurer Sheryl Ayers. “It also brings in the animal husbandry part of the fair, although the fair is so much more than the animals.”

The fair welcomes back classic events such as the Demolition Derby, 4-H community barbecue cook-off and the junior livestock sale.

And the carnival is back this year. In 2021, the fair did not have a carnival because the fair’s carnival provider went out of business as a result of the pandemic. This year, the provider was able to re-establish its business and offer a small carnival.

Ayers said the fair is looking for local help to run the carnival this weekend.

Angela Fountain, interim Extension assistant director of 4-H development, said she is most excited about the junior livestock sale and the 4-H barbecue.

“You can come in and purchase the animals from the kiddos,” she said. “It’s always just great to support them because they end up using that money for their animal next year or putting it toward their college funds.”

The junior livestock sale will take place at 6 p.m. Saturday. Last year, 4-H members pulled in a fair record of $505,000 selling items from livestock to crafts.

Aaliyah Craig, 11, has a little fun and puts her siblings Elijah, 4, Westlynn, 5, and Emmilene, 1, in one of the goat pens on Tuesday while the family was at the Pavilion setting up for the La Plata County Fair. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

“Our livestock shows are always amazing because they’re so educational,” Fountain said. “You know, you get to hear from the judges on what they think about that animal and what makes that animal healthy.”

The 4-H barbecue will take place at noon Saturday and offer beef and pork. Fountain said the barbecue is an important event for the 4-H community because it is the primary fundraiser. It costs $8 a plate for adults and $5 a plate for adults 65 and older or children 10 and younger.

The True West Roundup will host a ranch rodeo and Wild West variety show at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. The event will feature a trick rider, trick roper, an equine drill team and a dog herding demonstration.

The trick rider will perform maneuvers such as cartwheels and handstands on a horse while traveling at full speed. A trick roper will show off traditional roping skills. The equine drill team, a group of 4-H girls from La Plata County, will conduct their first-ever performance. The gates open at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the La Plata County Arena; tickets cost $20 for adults, $15 for service members and seniors. Children 5 and younger get in for free.

“We’re just thrilled to showcase these variety events and are grateful for our sponsors’ support,” said True West Roundup Producer Pam Petrie.

The talent contest will also return to the fair this year at 7 p.m. Thursday. The competition is open to those in La Plata County as well as those in adjacent counties. Age groups will be 5 and younger, 6-11, 12-17 and adults 18 and older. Entry forms must be turned in no later than noon Thursday.

The concert on Friday will feature Asleep at the Wheel, whose 1975 single “The Letter That Johnny Walker Read” peaked at No. 10 on the country Billboard charts.

Ed Mayo, left, and Landon Belveal, both with La Plata County Fairgrounds, move panels on Tuesday in the Pavilion in preparation for the La Plata County Fair. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Tickets are available online at www.durangoconcerts.com and the Durango Welcome Center. General admission will cost $25 and reserved seating is $45.

Demolition Derby Superintendent Lynn Dobbins said there will likely be around 20 drivers who enter the derby this year.

“I just want to sell out all of the tickets and we have a full house with everyone safe and having a good time,” she said.

She is determined to sell out after not doing so last year. Pre-sale tickets can be purchased at multiple locations including Durango Muffler, Fender Menders, Handle Motor Sports and Walker’s Do It Best. Tickets cost $15 for each person and ticket limits may apply at pre-sale locations.

Ayers said the fair is not just a rural event, it is a community event. She said it is an opportunity for those who may live a more urban lifestyle to interact with livestock and aspects of rural living they otherwise wouldn’t.

“I think the fair is the best event that happens in the county all year long because it’s open to people of every age, every ethnicity, every gender or gender identification,” she said.

La Plata County Fair schedule of events

Wednesday

4 p.m.: 4-H Sheep Show, all classes judging open class sheep show, followed by swine showmanship.

6:30 p.m.: True West Roundup Ranch Rodeo and Wild West Variety Show.

7 p.m.: Livestock sale verification sheep cards due.

Thursday

8:30 a.m.: Judging 4-H/FFA breeding swine, market swine.

9 a.m.-8 p.m.: Exhibits open to the public.

9 a.m.: Judging open class home economics, horticulture, floriculture, creative arts.

9 a.m.: Judging 4-H/FFA and open class fleeces.

9 a.m.: 4-H poultry judging followed by open class.

1 p.m.: Judging 4-H/FFA goat show, all classes followed by open class goat.

5 p.m.: Fair Royalty speeches and modeling.

7 p.m.: Talent contest, patio.

7 p.m.: Livestock verification swine, poultry, goat, general project cards due.

Friday

9 a.m.-8 p.m.: Exhibits open to the public.

9 a.m.: Judging 4-H/FFA rabbits.

10 a.m.: 4-H/FFA breeding beef, beef showmanship.

1 p.m.: 4-H/FFA market beef, grand champion and reserve grand champion market beef, champion selection.

2 p.m.: Dairy cattle, all classes.

3:15 p.m.: Pee wee showmanship.

4 p.m.: 4-H/FFA livestock round robin, all-around showmanship.

7 p.m.: Asleep at the Wheel concert.

7 p.m.: Livestock sale verification rabbit and beef cards due.

Saturday

9 a.m.-6:30 p.m.: Exhibits open to the public.

9 a.m.: 4-H dog show.

9 a.m.: Judging open class beef all classes.

10 a.m.: Rooster crowing contest.

10 a.m.: FFA showmanship.

11 a.m.: Open class dairy cattle, all classes.

12 p.m.: Demolition Derby.

12-4 p.m.: Community 4-H barbecue cook off (senior center lawn).

2 p.m.: Rabbit costume contest.

2 p.m.: Poultry costume contest.

5 p.m.: Silver steaks, silver loin and silver chop award presentation.

5:45 p.m.: Fair Royalty crowning.

6 p.m.: Junior livestock sale pavilion.

9 p.m.-midnight: Fair family dance.

Sunday

8 a.m.: Cowboy church.

8 a.m.: Carcass animals loaded.

9 a.m.- 2 p.m.: Exhibits open to the public.

1:30 p.m.: 4-H/FFA Catch-It contest.

2-3 p.m.: Payment of premiums.

2-3 p.m.: Exhibits released in all departments.

2-5 p.m.: Booths taken down.

2-5 p.m.: Poultry and rabbit exhibits released.

2 p.m.: Animals released.

Beer garden is open Thursday through Saturday.

tbrown@durangoherald.com

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