Douglas County Fair keeps to roots in 99th year
This year’s Douglas County Fair and Rodeo won’t necessarily feature anything flashy or out-of-the-box. Instead, fair spokesperson Michelle Bartlett said the event will focus on the tried and true fun that has made it a community stronghold for nearly a century.
And that isn’t an empty boast — this year is the fair’s 99th anniversary. Last year, the fair and rodeo broke its attendance record with more than 36,000 ticketed guests. Organizers are expecting another record breaker this year.
With hundreds of FFA and 4-H exhibitors with projects in everything from market steers to equine to rocketry — and the largest number of exhibitors in the state in shooting sports and poultry — Bartlett said, the fair in Castle Rock, Colo., has something for everyone who wants to participate.
That’s important, because 91 percent of the county’s population lives in urban areas, but it’s rural areas that make up nearly 83 percent of Douglas County. Getting families out to the fair is a chance to teach them about the area’s roots and improve its agricultural future.
“There’s a lot of education involved. Where does food come from? How to raise quality livestock and the overall Western traditions that are the foundation of this great state,” Bartlett said. “We try to offer a lot of hands on experiences for kids and adults alike, like the draft horse experience and Beyond the Dirt, which allows guests to be on the arena floor, learn about the animal athletes and meet contestants to learn about their sport of choice.”
The Douglas County Fair and Rodeo royalty attends events year-round in Highlands Ranch, Parker and Castle Rock to market to urban audiences in and out of the county. The fair also partners with the Colorado Agricultural Leadership Foundation, an organization in Castle Rock that helps kids who don’t have access to land participate in ag projects.
Another big focus for the fair this year is recognition of hometown heroes, she said. The Pro Rodeo Patriot Night on Aug. 4 honors active service men and women and veterans. The Cowboys for Cops event on Aug. 6 will commemorate local law enforcement, including two Colorado State Patrol officers who died while serving the Castle Rock area. Austin Wahlert, Colorado country singer and former professional bull rider, will perform a free concert, where he will play his song dedicated to law enforcement, “Thin Blue Line.”
To celebrate the not-quite-centennial anniversary of the fair, Pat Thompson, queen’s attendant at the 1957 Douglas County Fair, will join the Royalty Luncheon on Aug. 4. The rodeo side of things will also be honoring its roots this year by contracting with Summit Pro Rodeo, the stock contractors who brought animals to the first Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association-contracted rodeo at the fair in 1960.
“The fair is always fun,” Bartlett said. “(We’re) looking forward to the 100th Celebration in 2018.” ❖
— Work is a freelance writer from Lakewood, Colo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.