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Garfield County Fair open class entries being prepped as 4-H judging begins

CSU extension staff, fair board members, volunteers keep busy with the new look to Garfield County Fair

Carla Farrand, CSU Extension Garfield County Director, 4-H Youth Development, Family and Consumer Science Agent, organizes entries in the food preservation Open Class in the Event Hall Monday at the fairground in Rifle.
Kyle Mills / Citizen Telegram

All is quiet around the Garfield County Fairgrounds this week, except for the North, South and Event halls with entries being dropped off and judging on 4-H and Open Class Monday in Rifle.

During a normal year, the fairgrounds would be buzzing with activity, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic the 2020 Garfield County Fair and Rodeo has canceled all in-person events and activities. But the cancellation of most of the fair hasn’t slowed things down for CSU Extension Garfield County Director, 4-H Youth Development, Family and Consumer Science Agent Carla Farrand, her staff, and volunteers. 

“It’s definitely dramatically different this year but very busy. For me there is a lot more paperwork involved in doing the fair than was typically involved,” Farrand said. “Everyone thinks this is easier because it is virtual, but it is actually four times harder, because of all the paperwork we are doing.”

Farrand said the biggest effect of the pandemic and county shutdown was on the 4-Hers and their projects.

“I think for the 4-H side it really caused a lot of kids to lose that connection with their project leaders because a lot of things were shut down,” Farrand said. “It really caused them to not be able to do the best project that they could do. We were able to get small groups back together, but even with that it was still a rush to finish their project because they had lost three months of working.”

For 4-Hers who had worked hard to train and prepare livestock for the fair this year they had to submit video and pictures for a virtual judging and livestock sale.

“The judges are going through the files online looking at the pictures and videos. They are judging the kids over the next two days,” Farrand said. “The staff will be working from those results to create the virtual livestock sale. We do have a link on the website to make it easier for buyers.” 

Farrand and her staff worked through the weekend and Monday, accepting Open Class entries and helping to make sure all 4-H entries were ready for judges.

In a typical year, Farrand would be checking in 150-200 photography items alone, but this year she has only received a dozen entries as of Monday morning. Normally the fair takes in thousands of entries from local exhibitors.

“We have no idea what to expect this year. We’ve opened it up, and some of our longtime exhibitors are still taking tags. We have an exhibitor who normally enters 300 exhibits, and I believe she has 100 tags this year,” Farrand said.

Farrand knows the pandemic has affected some exhibitors but believes that a lot of it has to do with the growing season being abnormal this year, and home gardens experiencing low production. While some categories are down, Farrand said some have more entries than years previous.

“Our food preservation section has really grown. We’ve had a lot more entries come in on that this year already,” Farrand said. “Just today we added a new class of dried seasoning, because a lot of people are growing their own herbs.”

Farrand, who has been a staff member with CSU extension for six years, and has volunteered for the fair for over 15 years, said she couldn’t thank the community enough for all their support for 4-H and the fair. For those interested in keeping up with results Farrand said staff and volunteers will be posting videos for people to check out on Garfield County Fair and Rodeo’s Facebook page.

“We know this is a challenging year. There are a lot of things we can’t do. We can’t have celebrations like normal. We already started planning for next year what we may be able to do and what we can do,” Farrand said.

kmills@postindependent.com


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