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A Farm And Ranch Day In Fruita

On Saturday morning, gray skies and chilly air threatened to dampen the spirits of the people pulling into the parking lot of the Fruita Coop Country/Ace Hardware store for the annual Farm and Ranch Day celebration. The event was co-sponsored by Fruita Area Chamber of Commerce, Coop Country/Ace Hardware, and C.S.U. Extension Service. The setup of the white-umbrella exhibitor’s tables started at 7am in anticipation of the expected crowd in spite of the weather. And show up they did.

Folks wearing clothing ranging from “Sunday go to meeting” to Saturday morning work clothes, many with kids in tow, got out of their pickups and cars to see what was going on. It was a Colorado blend of cowboy hats, western shirts, baseball caps and printed tee shirts. Some planned to attend one or more of the advertised seminars on “Soil & their fertility”, “Irrigated pasture & drainage”,” Weed & pest management” or “Livestock health, care & feeds” inside. Others came to hear the entertainment. Still others wanted to have the free picnic lunch before browsing the merchandise aisles inside the store, visiting the various display booths, or chatting with their waving friends.

Three long rows of hay bale seats waited in front of the stage area, near the serving tables. Two smiling gals manned the hot, covered, rectangular pans on the table holding the plates and buns for grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, which were just cooked on the smoking grills in the area above them. Folks circled the side table holding chips, plastic bins full of onions and pickles, together with squeeze bottles of relish, mustard and ketchup to add to the food on their plate. Another held stacks of plastic cups and big urns of pink lemonade and iced tea.

A pretty, red-haired, 14-year old musician, Kady Davies, carrying her guitar case confidently walked over to the stage area, getting ready to entertain the crowd. Kady said she’d won the “Fruita 8/9 Star Search” talent show last year, and has as her goal to “play in Nashville some day”. She added, grinning, “I’ve been playing guitar since I was five years old and have sung since I was able to talk.”

Against the building were two metal pens, one holding a baby calf and the other one holding sheep and baby lambs. Tables with silent auction items were set up by local FFA members (Future Farmers of America). They all attend Fruita Monument High School since it is the only high school in Mesa County that offers an Agricultural program. Two of the Ag Department teachers/advisors, Ryan Hudson from Fruita High School and Cindy Pearson from Fruita’s 8/9 school, together with volunteer Lee Gagne. were there with their FFA students.

Lee chatted about the FFA program and the National FFA Convention in Indiana last year costing $800 each for transportation, meals and housing and that 16 Ag students earned the money for their trip. A volunteer instructor, Lee, explained the annual “Cowboy Christmas” sale of items the students make and sell each year. From the proceeds, 50% goes to the individual student’s account and 50% goes to the general fund of the local FFA for their program. Earlier, Lee had carried on a fascinating monologue with the crowd, as he worked the hot coals with two student assistants nearby, demonstrating with long-handled tongs how to create decorative and functional iron works of art by heating, hammering and cutting the raw material.

When Kady finished her act to the sound of appreciative applause, “The Salt Creek Gang”, a country-western band from Collbran, congratulated her and took over the stage. Bill Clark, singer, guitar player, songwriter and leader of the band, introduced his fellow musicians. His daughter-in-law, Tammy Clark, sang, along with the tall man dressed in black, guitarist Archie Ayers, and his wife, Linda, singer and guitarist. Attractive cowgirl, Tei Chisenhall, played the spoons and drums. Russ Sibert joined them on banjo. J.R. Hamm played mandolin, sang and played harmonica.

Real country singers, this talented local band started off with “Ghost Riders in the Sky”, followed by “Light of my Life, made famous by Don Williams and Waylon Jennings.

Even though the weather began to grow colder and some headed to their cars, the crowd drifted back wanting to hear more of that good, old, country sound.

Actor Humphrey Bogart was quoted as saying, “A hot dog at the ballpark is better than a steak at the Ritz.” He was right but he should have added, “or outside, eating a hot dog while sitting on a hay bale in a parking lot”. But, perhaps ol’ Bogey never had a chance in his lifetime to attend a Farm and Ranch Day on a cool, calm Colorado Saturday.


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