Yampa River Valley hosts Cayuse Classic June 21 | TheFencePost.com

Yampa River Valley hosts Cayuse Classic June 21

by Shelisa Gould Davis
Belle Fourche, S.D.

Nestled in the mountains of the western slope of Colorado, Routt County and the Yampa River Valley offer a memorable and authentic western welcome. Routt County is definitely one of those places that have a way of finding a genuine spot in your heart. The people, the history, and the culture all make a very special destination.

Originally named in honor of John Long Routt, the first territorial and then state governor of Colorado, Routt County’s history started in the heart of agriculture. James Crawford, the first rancher to settle the area in 1875, pioneered a tradition of agriculture and rural living that are imbedded in the community’s fabric still today. Many of the ranches in the Yampa River Valley are in continued family ownership and always looking for a way to make it in our ever-changing economic times.

Along with the ranching heritage, the Yampa River Valley is made up of a diverse and robust base of trade. In the late 1800s the silver and gold mining boom brought new residents from across the nation. In 1949, the second mining boom struck with the first coal strip mine in the valley. There continues to be a strong base in the three active coal mining companies that are currently in operation today.

Located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains the region is blessed with abundant wildlife and amazing scenery, but the area is probably best known for its internationally acclaimed ski area. The combination of a world class ski resort and the home of over 50 Olympians help provide a strong resort and service economy. In addition to the ski industry, the recreational economy adds a vital piece to the area’s economic base.

All segments of the Valley recognize that they are dependent upon each other for economic survival due to soaring land prices, continual residential and commercial growth and the desire to maintain the rural way of life. The challenge is to unite all of the players in northwestern Colorado to assure the amenities that are so loved will exist for generations to come.

In an effort to retain that heritage while remaining a viable part of the local economy, a non-profit group was established in 1999. The Community Agricultural Alliance was organized to ensure that the agricultural community would be able to adapt to the changes in the local and regional economy and still be an active and vital part of the Yampa River Valley for the future.

According to volunteer Jeannie Logan the Community Agriculture Alliance’s mission is to “preserve the agricultural heritage of the Yampa River Valley by initiating, supporting and encouraging actions, programs and policies that mutually benefit and connect agricultural producers and consumers”.

The events and programs that the Alliance sponsor primarily act to promote land stewardship, value added products, and community relations. The Northwest Colorado Products Program works to develop a network of producers and retailers in Northwestern Colorado to create and maintain a market for products and services that originate in the northwestern part of the state. The program also works to develop marketing collateral that can be easily utilized by locals and tourist to help tell the stories of the area as well as its residents.

The annual Northwest Colorado Bull Sale is sponsored together with the Community Agriculture Alliance, CSU’s Routt County Extension Office and the Routt County CattleWomen’s Association. Producers from across northwestern Colorado brought a total of 47 bulls and 14 heifers to the 2008 sale in April.

The Cowboy Downhill, Agricultural Political Forum, Yampa Valley Almanac radio spots, the Community Agriculture weekly news column, and multiple ranch tours throughout the year are just a few of the litany of events and programs that the Alliance sponsors, in whole or in part, to help promote community relations. These activities help to achieve the four main goals of the Community Agriculture Alliance. Uniting the residents of the Yampa Valley and northwestern Colorado; education and awareness of agricultural issues; preservation and protection of agricultural lands; and the development of agricultural business activities are each working together to meet the Alliance’s goals as effectively and efficiently as possible.

The next event on the calendar will take place this weekend and will be hosted by the Sydney Peak Ranch south of Steamboat Springs. The third annual Cayuse Classic Equine Event and Benefit Auction will start bright and early at 9 a.m., Saturday, June 21. The day will consist of a wide range of events from the Hunter Jumper competition and a Poker Run/Crazy Eight Trail Ride to the Ranch Horse Versatility competition. Guests are encouraged to come out and view the demonstrations and competition as well as taking the opportunity to meet the horses and their riders.

The evening will include entertainment by Greg Scott, a western barbeque dinner and a live (plus silent) benefit auction. For additional cost and event information, registration forms and health requirements visit the Community Agriculture Alliance website. To purchase tickets to the evening BBQ contact the Alliance’s office by email at marshad@communityagalliance.org or by phone at 970-879-4370.

According to the Alliance Treasurer Medora Fralick, “the Alliance director and staff are committed to the Yampa Valley’s agriculture heritage by bridging agriculture, business, community and resort interests.” The staff is made up of a majority of individuals that are deeply rooted in the history and culture of the Yampa Valley since the early twentieth century.

If you are interested in finding out more information about the Community Agriculture Alliance of Yampa Valley their website is located at http://www.communityagalliance.com or the business office can be reached at 970-879-4370. For additional information about the Cayuse Classic and Benefit Auction contact Medora Fralick at 970-879-1402 or by email at mfralick@springsips.com.