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Back in the saddle

Ranch Rendezvous Day celebrates agriculture

— Despite challenges such as rising land costs and a recent shortage of diesel fuel, ranching in the Yampa Valley is alive and well.

The fourth annual Ranch Rendezvous Day, Saturday at the base of Steamboat Ski Area, is intended to spread and celebrate that message, said Marsha Daughenbaugh of the Community Agriculture Alliance.

“Agriculture is still a very viable industry in Routt County,” she said Wednesday.

In previous years, Ranch Rendezvous Day has drawn crowds of more than 1,000, Daughenbaugh said. Saturday’s event will include displays about irrigation, vehicle maintenance and weed control; horseshoeing and roping demonstrations; square dancers; antique tractors; a petting zoo in Gondola Square featuring cows, sheep, miniature donkeys, draft horses, mares, chickens, turkeys, alpacas, llamas, camel, bison and yak; carriage rides; a hay maze; and quilt making.

The event is a partnership between the Community Agriculture Alliance and Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.

“The Ranch Rendezvous Day provides a way for each of us to share our Western heritage, while reminding us of the unique Western mix here in the Yampa Valley,” said Andy Wirth, vice president of sales and marketing for Ski Corp.

Also Saturday, Historic Routt County! will host a Heritage Ranch Tour in the Pleasant Valley area near the base of Rabbit Ears Pass. The city of Steamboat Springs will provide transportation for the three-hour tour, which begins and ends at the ski base and includes stops at the Legacy Ranch and the Gay Ranch, with commentary along the way from local guides.

Daughenbaugh said ranching in the Yampa Valley is becoming an increasingly difficult profession for young people to enter.

“What’s threatening agriculture in Routt County is the fact that land prices have become so high, and equipment prices have become so high,” she said. “Young people can’t buy themselves into a ranch, or get a mortgage for equipment. It makes it very tough for people to stay in agriculture.”

Saturday’s events will provide a great way for people to experience local ranching heritage, Daughenbaugh said.

“It’s going to be a fun one,” she said.

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