Fun facts for the Routt County Fair’s 100th anniversary
Information collected from “Faster Horses, Younger Women, Older Whiskey: A Pictorial Archive of the Routt County Fair, 1914-1995” by Sureva Towler and Jim Stanko; the 75th Anniversary Routt County Fair and Rodeo guide issued by the Hayden Heritage Center; archived issues of the Steamboat Pilot; and “Fair Family Favorites: A Cookbook Celebrating 100 Years of the Routt County Fair.”
• When the Great Depression hit, the Routt County Fair was canceled in 1932, 1933 and 1934.
• In 1929, a Most Perfect Baby contest was held at the fair, requiring three physicians to examine infants for “vitality and physical perfection.”
• The tradition of holding a parade in conjunction with the fair began in 1946. The Hayden Lions Club now sponsors the event. In 1968, Routt County commissioners selected Blain “Popo” Wilson as the first parade marshal, and that tradition continues today.
• In 1959, Si and Darwin Lockhart organized the first junior livestock sale as part of the annual fair.
• A poker game was the highlight of the 1915 fair. A Brooklyn saloon owner promoted the event, and he earned himself a few days in the Routt County Jail for his efforts.
• The Helen Sherrod Outstanding Home Artist Award was established after Helen’s death in 2001 to honor the fair exhibitor who earns the most blue and rosette ribbons. Past winners of this prestigious award include Margie Arbogast, Carolyn Montieth, Jean-Marie Button, Beth Sundberg, Ruby Forster, Eileen Grover and Helen’s own daughter, Jackie Grimaldi.
• When it comes to faithful volunteers, Mary Ann Wixson is at the top of the list. She began exhibiting at the fair in 1934 and presently serves as a crafts superintendent, which translates into a volunteer service record at the fair of more than 60 years.
• On April 14, 1969, the Routt County Fair Association, as it currently operates, was incorporated as an independent nonprofit organization and the fairgrounds were designated as a Routt County Historic Site.
• In 1929 and again in 1940, local teams from the mines competed in a Mine Safety Contest at the fair. Rescue and first aid skills were put to the test.
• Just before the fair opening in 1946, the event was postponed for a week because of the State Health Department and Colorado Emergency Polio Committee’s declaration prohibiting all children younger than 18 from attending public gatherings until after Sept. 15 due to the polio scare.
• Maud Tarrt entertained crowds during the 1918 fair as she excelled in riding broncs and steers, which was considered a man’s sport at the time.
• General Pershing was a Routt County horse notorious for being one of the worst bucking horses in Northwest Colorado. He made several appearances at the Routt County Fair from 1919 to the mid-1920s.
• According to Bobby Robinson Sr., in an entry in the 75th annual anniversary fair book, the first fair barbecue was held in 1918 and organized by a man named Shaffer. Robinson, who was 8 at the time, helped out, and eventually took over the tradition. Now, the barbecue is named in Robinson’s honor.
• Ute Indians performed tribal dances at the 1918 and 1924 fairs.
• Rodeo and horse racing were an integral part of the fair from its beginning in 1914. The first winner of the stake race was Coke Roberds, who won a $20 purse. G.F. Brown won the first bucking contest and earned a $60 purse.
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