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La Plata County Fair celebrates 75 years

Fair will feature events and attractions for all ages
Halle Faidl-Moore, 18, makes her presentation on her vintage inspired wedding cake on Tuesday to La Plata County Fair 4-H cake decorating judge Jared Carrillo. Participants in the 4-H categories dropped off their entries and made presentations before Wednesday, the official first day of the fair. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

As summer winds down and most kids are gearing up to head back to the classroom, a handful of them will make their way to the La Plata Fairgrounds.

They put the final touches on their projects, prepped their animals and loaded their trailers ahead of the 75th annual La Plata County Fair, which starts Wednesday.

The fair gives FFA members, 4H members and individuals who created independent exhibits an opportunity to share their hard work and passions with the public from Thursday to Saturday.

This year’s theme is “75 Years of Kids, Critters & Cowboys!” and celebrates the longevity of the event, as well as the animals and people who make the fair what it is.

“It’s going to be fun and exciting, and somethings are educational,” Sheryl Ayers, treasurer of La Plata County Fair Inc., said.

Accommodating restricted parking

While many aspects of the fair will remain unchanged this year, perhaps the biggest adjustment will come with the parking situation, said Ayers.

This year, parking at the fairgrounds will be limited. Additionally, there will be no parking available at Durango High School and Miller Middle School because of ongoing construction projects.

Attendees are encouraged to consider alternative parking and transportation methods including carpooling, parking at Durango Public Library and walking to the fairgrounds via the river trail, as well as public transit and shuttle options.

The Durango Transit Trolley will run on 20-minute intervals from the Transit Center to DHS until 8 p.m. each day. Additionally, a free shuttle service will be available from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday for those who park at the Durango Public Library and Needham Elementary School to and from the fairgrounds.

Zantha Kugle, 9, does a pull up on Tuesday as her mom Jessie Kugle helps set up her stall where she will keep her sheep to show in the La Plata County Fair that starts Wednesday. Zantha said, Ive been practicing because the boys are always showing off doing pull ups, so I wanted to show that I can do it too. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)
Fair attractions

This year, the fair will be back in full force, said Ayers. The carnival, which appeared at the fair for the first time post-COVID-19 last year, will return, and a number of food vendors will sell snacks like licorice and kettle corn.

Additionally, the fair has no admission fee, a factor Ayers believes encourages those who otherwise might skip the fair to wander in.

One of the fair’s most enjoyable attractions are the exhibits, she said. The exhibits, ranging from crafts to crops and creative writing samples, are open for public viewing Thursday to Saturday.

“I love the fair partly because all ages, from preschoolers through seniors, can enter submissions,” Ayers said.

In addition to creating exhibits, 4-H and FFA members also use the fair as a stage to show and auction their animals. For these children, the Saturday evening livestock sale provides an opportunity to have all the hard work they have put into raising their animals realized, said La Plata County four-H Youth Development Specialist Angela Fountain.

“The way the local community comes out to support the kids is always just so amazing to me,” Ayers said.

Local businesses often help children raise their animals by providing feed and other supplies on loan, until they auction their animals and have the money to repay them, she said.

Surplus funds can also be used to support their future endeavors, Fountain said.

“A lot of those kids use the funds they get at the livestock auction to help fund their project next year, to buy a car in the future or to go to college,” Fountain said.

For those hoping to attend more lively events, Ayers said the fair will hold a variety of shows in the rodeo arena.

The True Western Round up will kick off the shows at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. Gates will open at 5 p.m.

Angela Fountain, with the La Plata County Extension Office, carries out tubs of La Plata County Fair ribbons on Tuesday as 4-H judging begins. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

The Round Up gives spectators a living history lesson, said Pam Petrie, producer of the True Western Round Up.

“It’s a throwback to Bill Cody, and his Wild West shows. So we are going to have various acts performing for us,” she said. “It's going to be very light-hearted and family friendly.”

The two-hour show will feature several historically significant acts, including a trick rider, pony express demonstration and wild horse race, Petrie said.

Tickets for the Round Up can be purchased online at primoticketingadmin.com. Adult tickets are $25. Youth, senior and military tickets are $15, while admission is free for children ages 4 and younger.

At 6 p.m. Friday, gates will open for the Bellamy Brothers concert, which will feature an opening set performed by Bayfield-based band Garrett Young Collective. Tickets can be purchased either at the gate or online at laplatacountyfair.com.

Entrants in the La Plata County Fair 4-H categories drop off their projects on Tuesday and wait to do their presentations in front of the judges. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Reserved grandstand seating tickets are $45, and general admission tickets – which require holders to bring their own chairs – are $25.

The Demolition Derby will be held at noon Saturday, with gates opening at 10 a.m. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the gate the morning of the derby.

The derby is something drivers and organizers prepare for all year, said demolition derby driver Ralph Brawley.

“So we’re excited. We really are. We love this,” he said. “This is our best time of the year.”

Organizers have worked on scheduling the fair since January, La Plata County Fair board president Amy Peterson said.

“It’s been a lot of work, but it’s gonna be a good fair I feel,” she said. “We’re looking forward to it.”

Children get to show their skills in the Pee Wee showmanship category on Friday at the La Plata County Fair at the fairgrounds. (Jerry McBride/ Durango Herald)
La Plata County Fair schedule of events


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

6:30 p.m.: True Western Roundup

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


8:30 a.m.: Judging 4-H/FFA breeding swine, market swine followed by open class 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, followed by alpaca demonstration.

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.


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 Robbin, All-Around Showmanship.

7 p.m.: Bellamy Brothers concert.

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


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.

Noon: Demolition Derby (gates open at 10 a.m.).

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

2 p.m.: Rabbit costume contest, custom parade of animals to follow.

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 (patio).


8 a.m.: Cowboy church (pavilion).

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.


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