Larry Banman: Enjoy the Middle Park Fair and Rodeo this week in Kremmling
Without a Doubt
This week marks the 92nd annual running (holding, happening?) of the Middle Park Fair and Rodeo. It marks the second time the fair has been held during the month of August. The date was changed for last year’s fair, primarily in hopes of attracting a more diverse and, hopefully, larger audience. When held in September, the attendance had been on the decline. There were a number of reasons cited: the fair was after the traditional tourist season; the agricultural flavor of the fair was attractive only to an ever-dwindling number of people engage in agriculture as a livelihood; the school district in the country were not sympathetic to the fair schedule; the weather could be unpredictable in September.
The new date is before both school districts kick into gear but it is also conflicts with haying season for area ranchers. Personally, I like the weather better in September. Generally speaking, the week of fair (when it was held in September) was after the first frosts of the year. The mosquitoes are dead by that time of year and the aspens are gorgeous. September can have some of the most beautiful days of the year, but the month is also capable of spitting out a few rain-soaked or snow-filled days. Lest we forget, the fair of about five to seven years ago produced so much rain that the rodeo arena on Sunday resembled a small lake. It was mud-bogin’ action for sure, but the vehicles weren’t powered by nitrous, they were powered by alfalfa and grain.
The changing of the fair dates for last year could probably be classified as a qualified success. In an effort to keep as many people happy, a few events were added to an already full schedule. The fair was spread out over a week plus the two bookend weekends. People, being creatures of habit, took a little while to adjust to the new schedule. One nice thing about the expanded schedule is that it relieved the congestion experienced by the 4-H members and their families. There wasn’t a carnival, but organizers found that people also had an appetite for a logger’s rodeo as well as a motorized event. Those events, including a music concert, have been included in this weekend’s calendar of events. This year, it appears that there will also be more vendors. As it turned out, many people noted that it is the vendors that really help build an atmosphere that makes a county fair feel like a county fair. For a variety of reasons, there weren’t very many vendors at the fair last year and the week had the feel of a number of loosely connected events that just happened to be occurring at about the same time of the year at the fairgrounds in Kremmling. The vendors created an interlude that helped people segue from one event to the next.
The Middle Park Fairboard is the organizing committee for the annual fair. That group did a good job this past year of creating an event that built on last year’s strengths and shored up last year’s weaknesses. The county government and county commissioners continue to work on upgrades to the fair and to the grounds. That support has been invaluable, as the upgrades would have been financially impossible without that influx of time, materials and labor.
Everybody knew last year would be a transition year and there would be some growing pains. A few people are still upset about the change of date, but the outcry isn’t quite as vocal as I anticipated. The 4-H leaders and members have adjusted to the earlier date and were able to produce animals that qualified for the livestock shows. It was my understanding that the 4-H Livestock Sale was a success. The complaints I heard about were addressed and that is the sign of any responsible, hard-working board of directors. If there are complaints this year, I’m sure they will be addressed appropriately.
The first Middle Park Fair and Rodeo I attended was in 1989. September that year was splendid and I had no other responsibility other than to snap a few pictures. The artistic members of my family cleaned up at the Exhibit Hall and I thought I had discovered the best secret in the mountains. I couldn’t have imagined a better county fair.
Over the years, I allowed myself to get more involved in the event and one aspect or another of the fair started to consume a great deal of time and too many brain cells. I slowly lost the joy I had experienced in 1989. This year, a couple of very gracious people have taken over some of those responsibilities and, for the first time in several years, I am looking forward to the Middle Park Fair and Rodeo. I invite you to do the same. From the livestock shows to the music concert to the demolition derby to the loggers rodeo, there is likely something that can catch your fancy. Come, and enjoy.
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