77th annual Eagle County Fair & Rodeo comes to Eagle today through Saturday | VailDaily.com

77th annual Eagle County Fair & Rodeo comes to Eagle today through Saturday

Ski runs now grace hills where sheep grazed, and most of the year, Eagle County is touted as a world-class recreation destination. But for one week a year — this week — the valley resurrects its roots for the Eagle County Fair & Rodeo.

"Our history of Western heritage has never really left us," said Tanya Dahlseid, fair manager.

This week marks the 77th annual celebration, which showcases the valley's Western roots with top-notch rodeo action combined with community competition, resulting in a must-do summer activity for locals and visitors alike.

Activities include 4-H shows, carnival rides, and exhibits, as well as the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Rodeo, the Junior Livestock Auction and Country Showdown talent competition at the Eagle County Fairgrounds in Eagle.

Let's rodeo

"Our rodeo is one of the very few county rodeos that has a superior quality of cowboys and stock, in part due our location off of Interstate 70," said fair & rodeo council member Ern Mooney. "You'll see world-champion cowboys and buckin' horses as pro-rodeo contestants make their way to and from the world-renowned Cheyenne Frontier Days, kicking off the same weekend as Eagle County Fair & Rodeo."

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What's more, the organizers of the Eagle County Fair & Rodeo have a few tricks up their sleeves for this year's event. From the high-flying antics of decorated rodeo clown Troy Lerwill to the trick-riding talents of the Daredevil Darlings to announcer Scott Grover calling the action from horseback, fans will experience a true showcase, held nightly beginning at 7 p.m. through Saturday.

"We are doing the concerts again, a dirt dance, on Friday and Saturday after the rodeo," Dahlseid said. "We're also having an additional specialty act in the Daredevil Darlings, who will be performing all four nights."

Dahlseid said the specialty acts are big crowd pleasers during rodeo shows. But for the rodeo competitors, the location and the stock contractor are the big draws.

Record rides

Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, the largest stock contracting firm in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, is the contractor for the Eagle County Fair & Rodeo.

James Greeson, a saddle bronc rider who travels with world champion Jacobs Crawley, was hanging out at the fairgrounds Tuesday as he prepared to ride later this week. He said the combination of Carr's top stock and the beautiful mountain environment makes the Eagle County Fair & Rodeo a favorite among pro riders.

"How could we not come up here?" Greeson said. "It's just a real quality event and we are just happy to be able to enjoy all of the things that Colorado has to offer."

The stock animals also enjoy their time in the Colorado high country.

"With the cool weather we have here in the mountains, the animals do amazing," Dahlseid said.

The proof shows every year. In 2009, Ryan Gray matched moves with Carr's Grass Dancer for a world record-tying 94-point ride. Last year, Richmond Champion scored 90 points on Dirty Jacket, the reigning two-time Bareback Horse of the Year.

"I think it's a combination of our location and Pete Carr," Dahlseid said. "I think a lot of people that come here for the rodeo add a few days and make it their vacations. Pete's stock is phenomenal, and the contestants follow it. We're fortunate to get so many of the best cowboys to be here."

Tickets to tonight's rodeo are $20 for adults, $15 for active military members and seniors (65 years and older) and $10 for children (4 to 12 years). On Friday and Saturday, tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors and active military members and $10 for children. To purchase tickets, visit http://www.eaglecountyfairandrodeo.com.

Historic support

While rodeo is the centerpiece of the event, the Eagle County Fair & Rodeo is also a deeply personal time for dozens of 4-H kids and families. Throughout the week, they show animals and present projects, culminating with the Junior Livestock Sale on Saturday afternoon.

The auction is pay-off day for local 4-H members, when they show their animals to be auctioned off to earn money for future projects or education. The action kicks off at noon Saturday with a buyers' barbecue followed by the auction at 1:30 p.m.

The auction is a roll call of long-time valley businesses, many who have been supporting the fair for decades. Fred Collett, of Collett Enterprises, is a prime example.

The 2016 Eagle County Fair and Rodeo marks the 50th year that Collett has been a fair sponsor. His company has been in business for 60 years, and he has always supported the fair, even before the event had formal "sponsors."

"I am just interested in supporting the community and the kids," said Collett of his long-time contributions. "We really like to help the fair kids."

Eagle County Fair and Rodeo Schedule of Events

Thursday, July 21 —Western Heritage

9 a.m. to 8 p.m. — 4-H and Open Class Exhibits open to public, Eagle River Center

9 a.m. — 4-H Swine Show, Eagle River Center

Noon to 2 p.m. — Western Heritage Luncheon, Exhibit Hall

2 p.m. — 4-H Lamb Show, Eagle River Center

3 p.m. — Carnival opens

4 p.m. — 4-H Goat Show, Eagle River Center

4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. — Free Children’s Grounds Entertainment, Festival Grounds

5 -7 p.m. — Country Showdown, Rodeo Grounds

7 p.m. — Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) Rodeo, ProRodeo Arena

Friday, July 22 — Tough Enough to Wear Pink

9 a.m. to 8 p.m. — 4-H and Open Class Exhibits open to public, Eagle River Center

9 a.m. — 4-H Beef Show, Eagle River Center

2 p.m. — 4-H Round Robin Showmanship, Eagle River Center

3 p.m. — Carnival opens

4:30-8 p.m. — Free Children’s Grounds Entertainment, Festival Grounds

4:30-8 p.m. — Local Artists Expo, Festival Grounds

6 p.m. — Jam Making Demonstration, Eagle River Center

7 p.m. — PRCA Rodeo, ProRodeo Arena

9-11 p.m. — Mark Powell & Lariat live concert and dirt dance, Arena Stage

Saturday, July 23 — Patriotic

9 a.m. to 8 p.m. — 4-H and Open Class Exhibits open to public, Eagle River Center

9 – 9:30 a.m. — Pretty Baby Contest registration, Eagle River Center

10 a.m. — Pretty Baby Contest, Eagle River Center

Noon — Carnival opens

Noon — Junior Livestock Barbecue, Eagle River Center

1:30 p.m. — Junior Livestock Auction, Eagle River Center Stage

2 p.m. — “What is Your “H”?, Colorado State University Extension, Eagle River Center

4:30-8 p.m. — Free Children’s Grounds Entertainment, Festival Grounds

4:30-8 p.m. — Local Artists Expo, Festival Grounds

7 p.m. — PRCA Rodeo, ProRodeo Arena

9:30-11 p.m. — Mark Powell & Lariat live concert and dirt dance, Arena Stage