The Jeffco 4-H Fair from A to Z
Fence Post Staff Reporter
I have a confession to make; this was my first time attending the Jeffco 4-H Fair! An odd confession for someone who turns into a ghost around the Fence Post office every summer and becomes a certifiable county fair-a-holic. But it is true, before this year I had never experienced the full glory of all that Jefferson County had to offer.
There was never any “down” time at this fair. Extension agents, volunteers, parents, and kids literally ran from one area of the fairgrounds to another to ensure an on-time start to the next event. I even noticed a certain extension agent who shall remain nameless, run home during a lull in his events, to grab his car and enter it in the car show! He then made a mad dash over to the stick horse rodeo to judge 8-second rides and pole bending! With all of the activity, everything you could imagine at a county fair was at Jeffco. In fact, the Jeffco 4-H Fair had everything from A to Z!
A = Atmosphere. You can feel it as soon as you steer your car into the fairgrounds, the Jeffco 4-H Fair is different than any other county fair. Nestled in the mountains of Golden, Colo., lies a beautiful piece of land complete with rolling hills (that are pretty steep if you climb up and down them five times), new buildings (all well labeled on a map), and eager faces waiting to greet you (or even paint you). Unless you’ve seen the Jeffco fairgrounds, it’s difficult to explain, but as soon as you step out of your car, you know this place was made for great county fairs!
B = Bingo, as in cow plop bingo. Leave it to Jeffco to make a run-of-the-mill game like cow plop bingo absolutely original. Spray painted squares lay in wait in the saw dust-covered arena. Jeffco figured out a way to make spray paint stay on, and look nice on saw dust! Once all the squares had been sold, and the pot had been totaled, it was split in half. Half of the pot money went to the winner whose square the cow “plopped” in. The other half of the money went towards the Junior Livestock Sale!
I don’t know what they fed their bovine participants, but I watched three rounds of this game, and each time the animal did not take more than three steps before “plopping.” One steer was so eager, he couldn’t wait to get into the ring, and had to be disqualified! It was the world’s fastest Cow Plop Bingo!
C = Catch an animal. In a quick change, the ring that had once been painted and soiled for bingo, was converted into a “clean” place to get dragged around by next year’s fair animal. The catch-an-animal contest was by far one of the most popular events. Participants were grouped by age and set loose in the ring with the number of animals that had been sponsored for that year. At some times there were more than twice the amount of kids as there were animals which made for a wild ride!
While some kids chose the all-or-nothing, run-it-down approach, others waited until the opportune moment to jump in and snag the animal. There were the occasional discrepancies as to who grabbed what animal by which end first, but a do-over always seemed to satisfy any arguments. Side note: the Jeffco 4-H Fair is always looking for more sponsors of this great event. Please contact the Extension office at (303) 271-6620 for information.
D = Dogs and more, it’s a pet-friendly fair! If you’re from Jefferson County, and you’re in 4-H, you probably know Jazzie the hog-herding, horse-riding Whippet who belongs to the Vineyard family. Jazzie would never miss a fair, and neither did many other dogs who made themselves at home there. The Fair and fairgrounds were set up in such a way that the dogs had plenty to do, even if they couldn’t be with the sheep, bunnies, llamas, and more. They had a fairway to explore, outdoor vendors to mooch, and shade trees to nap under. Jazzie was a catch-an-animal fan and got comfortable on the bleachers watching the action.
E= Eating contest, pie in this case. Every variety of the yummy, baked treat was available to anyone who dared enter. Cherry, blueberry, apple, and more, greeted the eager faces as they took their places at the table. Hair was tied back, words of encouragement were shouted and they were off! Mouth-first they dove into their pies. Strategies became apparent almost immediately. Some would take huge bites to remove lots of pie at a time. Others would skip the chewing part, take smaller bites and swallow. Still others decided the clean route was better and chose the slow-and-steady eating style. In the end it was 16-year-old Emily Ayer who won. Her philosophy, “if you don’t first succeed, try, try again!”
F = Face painting. As the day wore on, more and more faces were turning from clean and ready for the show ring to butterflies, wolves, clowns, and more. Who was responsible for this transformation? Mrs. Frog and her face painting booth. In less than five minutes, and for whatever donation you felt like giving, Mrs. Frog turned her customers into walking, talking art. She was no amateur either, Mrs. Frog knew people would want to eat and drink at the Fair too, so she made sure to leave enough “open space” to allow that to happen. Complete with her signature stick-on jewel on their cheeks, each one of her creations left with a smile. http://www.mrsfrog.com.
G = Grain art. Bins of corn, wheat, millet, barley and more were lined up, and the kids lined up with them. This educational exhibit, designed to teach folks about the uses and importance of the different grains, was also an art form, and a fun activity. Clear plastic bottles were filled with the grains, and made layers not unlike sand art. Beautiful but educational, in true 4-H style!
H = Hands on. The fun didn’t end at grain art either, there were many other exhibits that were hands-on for kids of all ages to do. Nicholas Schneider was using his three years as a leather craft participant, and his grandmother’s leather tools to teach people to turn a square of leather into a work of art. Having won several blue ribbons for his creations, Nicholas was a natural teacher, and answered any questions his students threw at him.
I = Iced tea, lemonade,and more. Forget the typical fair fare, Jefferson County had authentic Mexican food, killer sno-cones, home made lemonade and iced tea, and a 4-H food bar that had anything else you could want.
J = Junior Clue in the Barn. As one walked around the Event Center and admired all the animalian 4-H projects you would also notice laminated fact sheets at about eye-level for an 8 year-old. These sheets went along with an information scavenger hunt called Junior Clue in the Barn. Green sheets were handed out with questions on them, and the answers lay on the fact sheets on the animal’s pens. It kept me out of trouble for a half hour!
K = Kitty (that’s me) got her face painted too! As I was taking photos of Mrs. Frog’s art work, I was asked who I was. All I had to do was mention that my name was Kitty, and the creative juices could not be held back. Mrs. Frog and a slew of her painted faces convinced me to become my name, so I too walked the Jeffco 4-H Fair with a painted face. (For proof turn to Parting Shots.)
L = Livestock sale. 4-H’ers work a year-round job for which there is only one pay day, and the Junior Livestock Sale is it! People from the community bring a little bit of money and a lot of love and support for these kids and become buyers in the sale. These buyers not only help the kids to shape the future of the agriculture industry, they also help to ensure their own business. 4-H families are more likely to frequent a restaurant or business that has bought at a Junior Livestock Sale than one that has not. It’s a community-building experience from the time the first animal-kid pair enters the sale ring, until the last gavel drops!
M = Margaret Manning, Jenna Thaler and “Grammy” enjoy sno-cones and a rest from the sun.
N = National Western Stick Horse Rodeo. I’ve seen stick horse rodeos before, but none have ever been like this. From pole bending, to steer wrestling where the steer dodges and fights back, until it falls on the ground laughing with its two legs in the air. Then there’s calf roping, barrel racing, and the ever-popular bull riding events. You’ve never seen rodeo action until you’ve attended the National Western Stick Horse Rodeo! Just ask their hard-to-wrestle steer, Mr. Akers.
O = O’Donnell kids and friends. Brooks O’Donnell, hands out sheets for Junior Clue in the barn while his sister Moorea, and their friend Danielle Wiechman walk their project animals.
P = Pet parade. Pets were not only welcomed at the Jeffco 4-H Fair, they were paraded around. Led by a gorilla, all pets, from tall llamas to small rabbits were paraded around the fairgrounds to show their stuff, and get a little exercise. I’m still not sure who the gorilla belonged to, one helpful little cowboy roped him in order to take him on the walk!
Q = Questions. Being a newcomer at the Jeffco 4-H fair meant I had questions. Where is the Auditorium? What time is the Round Robin? Point me towards the lemonade, please! No matter who I asked I was greeted with a warm smile and a “sure no problem, head up the hill and …” Whether I turned to the information booth or to a 4-H’er I was always helped and sometimes even personally escorted to where I needed to go! Talk about western hospitality!
R = Round Robin. By the way, the Round Robin started at 2:30 p.m., and believe me, the participants were eager to get it under way by then too. Poultry, horses, goats, lambs, llamas, cattle, rabbits, and their showmen lined up for the final competition. Beginning with their own species, they showed their animal for two minutes, then rotated though the rest until they had shown all of the species. Most of these kids had spent all day picking the brains of their peers, and giving little secrets about their animals. Each kid genuinely tried to help the others succeed. It was clear, though some were a little worried, and others very confidant, they were all having fun!
S = Sleeping animals. It’s not easy looking one’s best and performing on demand. The animals needed just as much rest as their bi-ped counterparts. Sometimes they were so tired, they didn’t care who they snuggled with!
T = Tough luck. Anyone who has ever worked with animals, been at a county fair, or in 4-H knows that sometimes things do not go as planned. What I thought was a group of kids gathering around to “study” for the Round Robin, was actually a group who was there to lend support to a fellow 4-H’er and to see a living legend in action.
Veterinarian John Pallaoro is a living legend around the Fair and Jefferson County. Unfortunately Doc Pallaoro had arrived at the Fair to bolus Connor Hanley’s sick sheep. The sheep had to be pulled from the Junior Livestock Sale, but Connor seemed more concerned for the well being of his animal than his own tough luck.
He held the sheep as Doc gave the bolus, and he hugged the animal and spoke softly to him after Doc had finished. I was impressed by the support and caring all Connor’s peers showed to him and his sheep. Tough luck indeed, but even tougher friends to help pull him through.
U = What goes up must come down. All along the fair way were games, bouncy castles, and rides to partake of. Shoes came off, faces were cleaned and lunch was fully digested, then fun was ready to be had!
V = Vvrrooom! The car show at the fair had it all. Shiny, polished, buffed, and proud, and those were just the cars’ owners! From white-wall tires, to metallic paint, revving engines, and big-block motors, it was enough for any car enthusiast to spend hours drooling over and chatting about.
W = Westernaires. One of the unique factors of the Jefferson County fairgrounds is that they also house the elite riding group known as the Westernaires. Throughout the Fair, the Westernaires put on shows and demonstrations of skills and connections with their horses. If their flying colors and flawless riding are things you haven’t yet experienced, head on down and watch them in action, it’s a real treat!
X = X-treme officers of the law. I’m sure you’ve already noticed that Jefferson County does not do anything half way, it’s all or nothing for these folks. The same is true for their law enforcement who were in attendance at the Fair. From riot gear and bullet proof vests that the public could try on, to weapons to look at and stories to hear, these men were definitely an educational attraction. The real crowd pleaser was the 90 pound, jet black, German-speaking German Shepherd K-9 unit.
Imported from the Czech Republic, this dog could run at 30 miles per hour, and once his jaws clamped down on someone, they would not let go until his handler instructed him to. The demonstrations were awe inspiring, and made me feel badly for the guy who had to wear the dog-proof suit in the 100 degree heat!
Y = You! Were you there this year? If a certified county fair-a-holic made it to the Jeffco 4-H Fair this year, there’s no reason you didn’t. If you missed it, you missed a lot, and entire alphabet smorgasbord of fun and entertainment. But don’t worry because if you missed it we’ll …
Zee ya next year!
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