Ranchers bring the sizzle to Routt County Fair | SteamboatToday.com

Ranchers bring the sizzle to Routt County Fair

Charlie Epp grills steaks Friday during the Best of Steak competition at the Routt County Fair.
Scott Franz

— At some parties, you find vegetable trays and cheese plates.


At the Routt County Fair in Hayden, you find something much, much tastier — sizzling pieces of steak being passed out for free on party trays.

“I’m literally drooling over here,” a Routt County Cattlewomen volunteer yelled out as the steaks neared completion on a grill outside of a barn.

The steaks, provided by six hardworking ranching families around Routt County, were then judged for their marbling and flavor in what had to be one of the toughest competitions at the fair.

It didn’t take long for fairgoers to smell what was cooking and wander over to the cook-off that was happening outside of the hustle and bustle of the fair.

The competition between the two T-bones, a ribeye, some ribs and a tenderloin was one that many didn’t want to miss.

“When they smell this, they come runnin’,” grillmaster Charlie Epp said.

The steaks were seasoned with Charlie’s Coyote Salt, Epp’s homemade seasoning blend that contains 26 to 27 different spices.

Don’t ask Epp for the recipe.

It’s a secret.

Jason Stanhope, of Steamboat Powersports, had the very important job of judging this best of steak competition.

Stanhope, whose company regularly buys beef from the county fair, declared a T-bone steak provided by Routt County resident Julie Shook as the best cut of meat.

“It was a pretty tough decision, but based on the marbling and the flavor, it was a fantastic cut of meat,” Stanhope said.

As children showed off live cows inside the barn, the CattleWomen cut up the steak and volunteers distributed it at the beef show.

The cook-off was hosted by Routt County CattleWomen, a community-based organization that supports the beef industry through education, outreach and marketing.

The event served to remind community members about the importance of the local beef industry and beyond.

According to data from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, there were 619,172 ranches in the United States specializing in beef cattle.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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