Community profile: Rifle girl uses Garfield County Fair to help raise over $3,000 for state veterans home |

Community profile: Rifle girl uses Garfield County Fair to help raise over $3,000 for state veterans home

Rylan Petree stands beside the Colorado State Veterans Nursing Home sign in Rifle.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

Demolition derby cars and monster trucks weren’t the only shows generating revenue during this year’s Garfield County Fair.

Rylan Petree, a 13-year-old Rifle resident, raised about $3,315 by directing fairgoers to extra parking spaces at lots across Railroad Avenue. With the help of her grandparents, parents and her older sister, Jadyn, they guided cars over a four-day period.

Now the plan is to donate the money to the Colorado Veterans Community Living Center at Rifle, Petree said.

“I wanted the money to go to the people in our community who fought for our country,” Petree said. “I wanted them to have birthday and Christmas presents.”

Petree has personal experience with the military community. Her grandfather, Ray Petree, served in the Vietnam War, she said.

Though some days were busier than others, each night yielded successful results for this local family of vehicle ushers. Encouraging a $10 donation per vehicle, Wednesday saw the Petrees park 63 vehicles, 67 Thursday and 55 Friday.

Saturday’s demolition derby, however, proved to be the most eventful for the Petrees. That night ended with them helping park a total of 99 vehicles.

As a bonus, Petree garnered a $100 donation from Tee’d Off Bar & Grill in Battlement Mesa.

“I’m proud of her patriotism, her love of country and her civic-minded attitude,” Shawna Petree, Rylan’s mother, said of her daughter. “I love her big heart and wanting to help the older people in our country. We need to take care of our aging population.”

Rylan Petree originally got the idea to direct cars to parking spaces during fair time from her sister, Jadyn. About six years ago, Jadyn raised money doing the same activity during a fundraiser for the Rifle Heritage Center.

“She has all these good ideas, and she helped me make them all come true,” Rylan said of her older sister.

Rylan Petree attends Rifle Middle School and, not surprisingly, one of her favorite subjects is social studies, because, “I like to learn American history and history altogether.”

When she informed the local veterans nursing home that she would be donating the money to them, she said their response was “happy” and “excited.”

“[The Colorado Department of Human Services], and our veterans and staff, are appreciative of the fundraising efforts of Rylan. What an inspiring effort,” Ashley Trujillo, administrator of Veterans Community Living Center at Rifle, said in a statement. “Since 1986, we have been proud to serve the needs of veterans in the Rifle and Western Slope community, and community members like Rylan are a valuable part of that.”

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or

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