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Fair Excellence

Story by Heidi Rice
Photos by Christopher Mullen
Christopher Mullen Post Independent Seth Coursen holds on as his horse tries to buck him off during the Bareback Riding competition during the 2014 Garfield County Fair PRCA Rodeo, August 6 in Rifle.
Christopher Mullen |

As the Garfield County Fair wraps up today, the fair board and those who attended say it’s been another successful year.

“It’s gone exceptionally well,” said Garfield County Fair Board President Levy Burris. “It’s been very smooth and well organized.”

Attendance is comparable to last year, but Friday night’s concert did extremely well with more than 2,200 people in attendance.

“And we had about 900 people at the family rodeo,” Burris said. “That’s three times the attendance of last year. With mutton bustin’, team roping and team barrel racing, it’s a family event. People really got into it.”

“We try to make people aware that there are multiple facets to the fair. … “Someone may not like the Demolition Derby, but they like to dance to country music.”
Levi Burris
Garfield County fair board president

This is the third year the family rodeo has been done, and the focus of it is on families having fun together, according to the event producer, Cody Smith, who is also a fair board member and participant in the rodeo.

“Everyone comes out and has a good time. It’s just a family atmosphere where you can spend time with your kids. The most fun part about it is that it’s family-oriented.”

Grady Hazelton and his wife Suzanne, of New Castle, took their two kids, Sophie and Brian, to the family rodeo on Tuesday night.

“The stick horse event was definitely a big hit,” said Grady, who is a lifelong New Castle resident and has attended many Garfield County Fairs. “There weren’t as many people as I expected today, but I think overall it’s been successful.”

Saturday began with a Kiwanis pancake breakfast in Heinze Park, followed by a parade down Railroad Avenue at 10 a.m. with more than 47 entries. The Classic Car Show in Metro Park featured numerous old-time cars, while 1950’s music blared in the background.

A livestock sale was held, followed by several bands on the backstage and the ever-popular Demolition Derby in the evening.

Burris attributes some of the success of the fair to a change in the layout in the Midway area of the fairgrounds.

“We’ve gotten a lot of compliments about how it’s easier to navigate,” he said. “You can get into the food court and grandstands more easily.”

The design also helps people realize that when one event ends, there are still other things going on.

“We try to make people aware that there are multiple facets to the fair,” Burris said. “Someone may not like the Demolition Derby, but they like to dance to country music.”

Today is the last day of the 2014 fair and will wrap up with “Fiesta Day,” which promotes the Hispanic culture.

“We try to incorporate all the citizens of the county,” Burris said. “We started it last year, and we have a Mexican rodeo and bull ride and cultural dancing. The music includes mariachi bands, and there are a couple of additional vendors with authentic Mexican food.”

Another successful fair, but it couldn’t have been done without the tireless hours from fair coordinator Doreen Herriott and fair board volunteers that include Burris, Vice President Cody Smith, Secretary Courtney Jenkins and fair board members Eileen Sheets, Donna Marye, John “Brock” Hedberg, Kelly Porter, Rich Shaffer and Doug Teter.

“These people work on it all year long,” said Renelle Lott, chief communications officer for Garfield County. “They are so dedicated and put in hundreds of hours. They’ll have another fair board meeting two days after the fair is over to start making plans for next year.”


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