Community Ag Alliance: Cheers to 105 years at the fair
For the Steamboat Pilot & Today
HAYDEN — We’ve come a long way since 1914, but the “feeling” of the fair remains the same, according to Sandy Boston of Hayden.
“Because no matter where you’re from, a big city or a little town, the Routt County Fair makes you feel like you’ve come home,” Boston said.
The Routt County Fair was born of a time when “children did chores, arrowheads could be found on the back 40, and ice was cut from the river.” Since then, we’ve seen “the outhouse hauled away, the plow horse replaced by a John Deere and farm kids majoring in agribusiness.” The fair honors the pioneers who gathered at the Routt County Fairgrounds 105 years ago to share laughter and lies.
In 1914, many felt Hayden was the perfect place for a county fair. Although located on the western side of Routt County, it was the center of Northwest Colorado, which included vast areas of Routt County and the newly formed Moffat County. The success of Railroad Days — an event in 1913 celebrating train cars full of the best steers and hogs — coupled with the town’s enthusiasm for hosting an annual celebration led to the birth of the Routt County Fair in September 1914.
State Senator John Cary of Hayden encouraged using a fair to promote the agricultural products of the region and proposed that land south of town — the site of some ballfields and a crude race track — become a permanent fair and racing track.
The group that hosted Railroad Days, meeting informally in the back of a local store, organized the Routt County Fair and Racing Association in November 1913, which was incorporated in August 1914. The location became “permanent” when the association purchased 40 acres at $50 per acre from Wilson Cary, who took half the payment in association stock.
The Great Depression forced the cancellation of events in 1932, 1933 and 1934. On March 13, 1934, in an attempt to save the event, the association deeded the Fairgrounds to Routt County.
Today’s fair is organized by the Routt County Fair Advisory Board, a nine-member volunteer board appointed by the Routt County Board of Commissioners. While this board works closely with the commissioners, it’s the board members who spend countless hours to produce the annual Routt County Fair for the enjoyment of locals and visitors alike.
The 105th annual Routt County Fair will celebrate the community’s heritage with several days of horse and livestock shows, home arts exhibits, a bonfire with live music, demolition derby, barn dance, gymkhanas, heritage arts demonstrations and family-friendly fun. Meet your friends and neighbors at the 105th annual Routt County Fair Aug. 15 to 18, where we’ll say, “cheers to 105 years.”
For a complete schedule and the latest fair information, visit routtcountyfair.org
Jill Delay is Routt County Fairgrounds manager and fair coordinator.
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