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The Carbondale spirit shines at Garfield County Fair and Rodeo

Locations: Columns Published

By Garfield County Communications

The Garfield County Fair and Rodeo kicked off Monday and is already into full gear. The venerable event is now in its 79th year, and offers rich outdoor experiences for all corners of Garfield County.

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There is a saying that a person passes nine planets while crossing through Garfield County, but we’re not really all that different in this 3,000 square mile county. Residents throughout have a deep-rooted love for the land, wildlife, things that grow, and natural beauty, as well as a keen eye for colorful and unique artwork.

Carbondalians rejoiced over the past weekend at their hometown festival, the always fun Mountain Fair. Diverse art exhibits, colorful expressionism, and delicious food were prominently displayed. These values are also on display at the Fair and Rodeo in Rifle, produced by not only Garfield County residents, but those of surrounding counties.

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The Open Class events include art of many disciplines, photography, woodworking, cake decorating, quilting, and much more. There are many classes for displaying the best garden vegetables and flowers Garfield County soil can produce. Young people from across the county have dedicated six months or longer of hard work and study to train livestock to exhibit at the fair, and to make handiworks for exhibits or to demonstrate shooting skills.

You remember that beautiful, home-grown heirloom tomato or perfect, succulent zucchini you had reservations about chopping up for last Tuesday’s salad? Well they’re pieces of natural art, and could have been entered in the Open Class. See your neighbor’s at the fair!

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The Wild West Rodeo is an increasingly popular destination on Thursday nights in Carbondale, while the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) is bringing its ProRodeo and women’s ProRodeo competition to Rifle on Aug. 3. The shouts, cheers, and hard-riding excitement will echo between the two destinations in unison on that evening. The best of the best local riders enter in each to garner the best times in the arenas, and many of the long-time hometown ranching families from the Carbondale area are the top names on the winning rodeo time sheets and in 4-H competitions.

Both Carbondale and Rifle have become popular destinations for live music, and Mountain Fair and Fair and Rodeo line-ups attest to that burgeoning tradition. Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal brought the house down on Saturday night in Carbondale. That “I Shall Be Released” encore is one to remember. On Aug. 4, country music star Scotty McCreery is sure to add another fantastic chapter in Garfield County’s musical lore at the Fair and Rodeo. Hoyer was a contestant in the 12th season of The Voice, while McCreery won the 10th season of American Idol. Coincidence?

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Grand Ole Opry royalty Lorrie Morgan and Pam Tillis open for McCreery with their dynamic Grits and Glamour show. Roughly a dozen other bands will be performing on the free stage, including local favorites the Logan Brothers, Fifty50, and the Caleb Dean Band.

Following a late night show in Carbondale last weekend, Ponder the Albatross is sure to challenge its sound again in Rifle on Aug. 3. North Carolina’s Nu-Blu brings back-east bluegrass to the West Slope on Friday night.

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The apple pie eating contest takes place on Aug. 5 at the fair. There are sure to be a few award-winning homemade pies judged on Aug. 3 that would make Sopris Sun Editor Will Grandbois swoon. His discerning taste buds would be very welcome.

New this year is the Butterfly Encounter, in which fairgoers can feed and interact with these winged beauties. And, not to be outdone by their delicate beauty, dinosaurs will stomp the fairgrounds, while visitors can see the new Dinosaur and Ice Age Exhibit in the Midway of Family Fun!

And for the motorheads in either end of the county, Saturday night’s always sold out demo derby may have a challenge in attendance with Sunday’s tuff truck competition, immediately following the new strongman competition. Gear up!

Most of all, from Carbondale to Rifle and beyond, Garfield County residents are about family. At both Mountain Fair and the Fair and Rodeo, families come together to create warm moments and enjoy all life has to offer. Children play in the mud, while much older kids at heart play in the dirt challenges. Smiles are ubiquitous at either end of the county.

Couple all of these attractions with the fine weather, and the Fair and Rodeo presents a perfect place for two cultures to meet, and realize they have a lot more in common than they once believed.

The Garfield County Fairgrounds is located at 1001 Railroad Avenue in Rifle. Swing on by and check out the Fair and Rodeo. You’ll see that there’s plenty of fun for everyone, especially Carbondalians.

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