The Delta County Fair Board is a hardworking bunch, but without the support of additional volunteers, event sponsors and livestock buyers, it would be impossible to pull off this annual event.
"Every person on the fair board is on a committee, or is a chairman of a committee," said Gary Peebles, fair board president. "You're not on there for the prestige, that's for sure."
Concessions, livestock, the exhibit hall, the parade ... every event requires coordination and planning. "Due to the fact that we have so many events and activities, the size of the board was increased this past year," Peebles said.
There's an effort to keep board representation spread across the county, but it can be a challenge not only filling a vacancy, but finding a board member who's from an underrepresented part of the county.
Currently serving on the board, in addition to Peebles, are Jarod Keller, Delta; Ryan Bates, Cedaredge; Sheila Maki, Hotchkiss; Kay Adams, Hotchkiss; Angel Sharpe, Delta; Andy Braslin, Delta; Kristi St. Clair, Delta; Mariah Wood, Eckert; Teresa Burns, Hotchkiss; Amy Miller, Hotchkiss; Lance Kappel, Austin; Kelly Korth, Hotchkiss; Kirby Clock, Paonia; Chance Fischer, Austin; Josh Roeling, Austin; Dr. Jennifer Craig, Cedaredge; and Kristi Stewart, Crawford.
Not all board members are involved in agriculture, or even have kids in the fair. "They're just big proponents of youth and the community," Peebles said.
A number of organizations have also stepped up to help. Football teams park cars, volleyball teams take tickets, the S&B Quilters supervise the needlework exhibits, and this year the Delta Area Chamber of Commerce will be manning the beer garden.
"Without groups like that to step up to assist, we couldn't put enough bodies on the fair board to make the fair a success," Peebles said.
It's not unusual to work late into the night, tearing down one event and getting ready for the next. To make sure they are ready to get an early start the next day, many of the board members and fair superintendents camp at the fairgrounds. There are even superintendents to oversee that aspect of the fair.
Support for the youth of Delta County is nowhere more evident than at the junior market livestock sale.
"We would really like to thank our past buyers for their support at the livestock sale. Many of the same businesses have been buying animals for years."
It's easy to participate in the sale, Peebles said, whether by purchasing an animal or donating to the buyers' pool. The buyers' pool consists of donations pooled together from businesses and individuals to create additional purchasing power for 4-H and FFA members. Donations of any amount are welcome. Businesses, community members and grandparents who can't afford to purchase a steer can still support a young 4-H'er.
"The buyback sponsors are really important because not everybody wants a goat, but we have 90 goats to sell. With the buyers' pool, we find a home for every one of those animals. We even have buybacks on rabbits, chickens and turkeys."
To learn more about the buyers' pool, give Peebles a call at 234-5386.
Each livestock exhibitor has an opportunity to sell two species. An FFA member may decide to sell a steer and a pig, for example, but the animal must be market ready. Minimum weights have been established for every species. If the animals don't make weight, they are placed in a feeder class and the exhibitor can participate in the showmanship class for that animal.
"Showmanship has no bearing on the physical characteristic of the animal, it's on how well the kids present it," Peebles explained. "All of our species have a showmanship class. That's where judges look not at the quality of the animal, but at how much work the exhibitor has put into the animal, and how the animal responds."
The junior market livestock sale takes place Saturday, Aug. 12, at 2 p.m. at the fairgrounds in Hotchkiss.
The seventh annual Eckert Crane Days, the annual viewing of the sandhill cranes migrating north from New Mexico through Colorado's West Slope, will be March 16-18. Representatives from the Black Canyon Chapter of the Audubon Society (BCAS) will be at the viewing site east of Eckert at Fruitgrowers Reservoir, 9 to 11 a.m. each day, to answer questions and provide binoculars and spotting scopes.