Colorado State Fair continues to support youth

Story and Photos by Robyn Scherer, M.Agr. Kiowa, CO
Randy Houser drew a big crowd during the fair, as he put on a very entertaining show.

The Colorado State Fair continues to promote youth in agriculture through various educational and fun-for-all activities. “While the Colorado State Fair showcases a range of different activities, exhibits and vendors, its foundation stems from Colorado’s vast agricultural community,” said State Fair General Manager, Chris Wiseman. “The fair strives to help ensure a strong agricultural future by emphasizing its importance to today’s youth.”

The livestock shows, which are held throughout the fair, showcase Colorado’s youth exhibitors and their hard work throughout the year raising livestock. Youth competed in market shows in beef, swine, sheep, goats, rabbits and poultries, and those who placed well had the opportunity to sell their animals in the junior livestock auction.

According to preliminary totals, the 2013 sale accumulated approximately $451,750 from the state’s most dedicated bidders. Last year’s sale totaled $479,830. The sale is instrumental in supporting the future of Colorado’s agribusiness as it demonstrates to youth the importance of raising quality livestock and the work required of those who pursue careers in agriculture.

“Colorado’s 4-H and FFA youth work tirelessly throughout the year to earn a spot in this show and the Colorado State Fair appreciates their dedication to the agricultural community. We would also like to thank the generous bidders for their participation in this sale. They are instrumental in making the sale a success,” said Chris Wiseman.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the sale. Over the past 34 years, the Colorado State Fair

Junior Livestock Sale has raised over $8,250,000 for the youth involved in 4-H and FFA. The State Fair dedicates much of its time and resources to supporting 4-H and FFA, providing $479,830 of the annual budget to supporting these organizations each year.

Several open shows were also held for livestock, including beef, Boer goats and dairy goats, just to name a few. Participation for the fair’s horse shows and special horse events matched last year’s high numbers, especially in the Draft Horse & Mule Challenge, Youth Freestyle and Steer-Gathering contests.

The State Fair General Entry department received more than 8,000 entries in a variety of categories including fine arts, canning, quilts, crops, and cooking. The annual Fine Arts Exhibition had competitions by amateur and professional artists. This year, the show had everything from steampunk jewelry to oil paintings to a steel sculpture.

Colorado artists entered more than 900 pieces of art to be considered for the 2013 show. A panel of jurors selected 624 works by 321 artists to be displayed in the Fine Arts Building during the run of the Fair.

The Fine Arts Exhibition is one of the longest running and finest traditions of the Colorado State Fair. The popular and prestigious part of the annual event showcases original artwork by Colorado residents.

This year, the Best of Show award for the Emerging Student/Artists category was given to Sandy Wells of Pueblo for her work “Saqanishiki-golden threads.” Jurors also awarded 14 Juror’s Choiceawards for the amateur division.

In the Professional category, Ken and Tina Riesterer of Manitou Springs, won the Best of Show award with their work, “Galloping Graces.” There were five Juror’s Choice awards in the Professional category.

The fair offers more than shows, however. The Fair offered a wide variety of free, family attractions including extreme canines, talented bears, a petting zoo, and three free music stages.

The entertainment series is also a big hit with attendees, and this included concerts and five nights of PRCA Rodeo.

Approximately 67,400 people enjoyed the Colorado State Fair entertainment series including Randy Houser, Oak Ridge Boys, Seether, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the rodeos.

The winner of the PRCA all-around cowboy title this year was won by hometown favorite Josh Peek, who also won last year. He also won the individual title in the tie-down roping event.

“It was absolutely AWESOME having my family and friends there and of course my fans who have been with me from the beginning watching me and cheering me on,” Peek said on his Facebook page.

Peek turned in a time of 17.9 seconds on two head in the tie-down roping, and a second place finish in the second round of the steer wrestling was enough to earn him $5,052 for the weekend. It was Peek’s third time winning the all-around title at the Colorado State Fair.

Other champions included bareback rider Ty Breuer (83 points), steer wrestlers Ty Erickson, Billy Bugenig and Nick Guy (9.2 seconds on two head each), team ropers Coleman Proctor and Matt Kasner (12.4 seconds on two head), saddle bronc rider Jesse Wright (86 points), bull riders Clayton Foltyn and Wesley Silcox (87 points each) and barrel racer Carley Richardson (17.27 seconds). The total payout for the rodeo was $145,486.

Fair food was also a big hit with attendees. Approximately 425 commercial and food locations sold products at this year’s fair. An assortment of delicious fair food was offered to tempt taste buds including red velvet funnel cakes, gourmet hot dogs, hamburgers, and deep fried Twinkies.

This year the fair switched to using a cashless system to better track items sold at the fair. “We understand that some people are not in favor of the new cashless system but I believe this is a trend coming soon to state fairs across the country. We will certainly listen to our customers and make any necessary adjustments. The Colorado State Fair is a pioneer for the use of this technology. The system provides information that will help shape the future of this fair and I’m confident that, as this system continues to transform, that visitors will continue to enjoy the fair that has entertained families for over 140 years,” said Wiseman.

Two grand opening ceremonies were celebrated during the fair as well. The Colorado Proud Store debuted to educate consumers about the financial and environmental value of buying local products, while also making these local products accessible under one venue.

The Colorado State Fair Foundation celebrated the renovation of the Growing Minds Dormitory, which is used by approximately 450 4-H and FFA members annually.

The mission of the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) is to “strengthen and advance Colorado’s agriculture industry; promote a safe, high quality, and sustainable food supply; and protect consumers, the environment, and natural resources.” As a division of the Colorado Department of Agriculture, the Colorado State Fair accomplishes this goal through educational opportunities throughout the fairgrounds.

One place where they meet this goal is in the agricultural pavilion. Colorado agriculture is showcased in a manner that is fun, educational and interactive. Learn about the many services provided by the Colorado Department of Agriculture, see exhibits from agricultural commodity and industry groups, and experience a variety of farm animals and hands-on activities.

The 2013 Colorado State Fair ended its 11-day run on Sept. 2 as Colorado’s premier celebration of youth and agriculture. Attendance increased slightly to 476,966; in 2012, 474,914 people attended the Colorado State Fair.

“The increased attendance is great news but, first and foremost, we highlighted the importance of agriculture, provided educational opportunities to the people of Colorado, and supported 4-H and FFA youth. That is our true measure of success,” said Wiseman.

The 2013 Colorado State Fair marked the Fair’s 141st year as Colorado’s premier celebration of agriculture. The Fairgrounds provides nearly $34 million in economic activity to Colorado throughout the year; $29 million of that activity is driven by the annual State Fair event. ❖


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