80 years young: Eagle County Fair & Rodeo celebrates Western heritage | VailDaily.com

80 years young: Eagle County Fair & Rodeo celebrates Western heritage

2019 Eagle County Fair & Rodeo Tickets

Wednesday, July 24

Adults (13 yrs +) — $20

Seniors (65 yrs +) — $15

Military (ID required) —$15

Children (4 - 12 yrs) — $1

Children (3 yrs and under) —  Free

Thursday, July 25

Adults (13 yrs +) —$20

Seniors (65 yrs +) — $15

Military (ID required) — $15

Children (4 - 12 yrs) —$10

Children (3 yrs and under)— Free

Friday and Saturday, July 26 and 27

Adults (13 yrs +) — $25

Seniors (65 yrs +) — $20

Military (ID required) — $20

Children (4 - 12 yrs) — $10

Children (3 yrs and under)  — Free

Groups: 15+ Adult tickets purchased for one event night will automatically receive a $5 per ticket discount. Only one discount code (automatic or manual entry) can be applied per order. Group tickets can be purchased online or at the ticket office.

EAGLE — If you’ve never checked out the Eagle County Fair & Rodeo, this is the year to make the trek.

The county fair will mark its 80th anniversary in 2019, but the event has never been more vibrant.

“We increased our purse, so we have the highest number of contestants ever this year,” said Tanya Dahlseid, who manages the event. “We have 60 bull riders, 50 bareback riders and 48 saddle bronc riders signed up to compete over the four days. It is really exciting.”

Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association competition has been a central part of the event for years, but the fair itself has been an eight-decade-long downvalley tradition. Like always, it will feature 4-H kids showing and auctioning animals, community members competing for rosette ribbons, and lots of family fun.

The setup around the fair has been tweaked a bit for 2019, with more activities planned in the vicinity of the Eagle River Center.

“Right where you park your car this year, everything starts,” Dahlseid said.

This year’s new additions include an expansive kids’ fun area that includes crafts, pony rides and a petting zoo. Carve Wars, a chainsaw carving demonstration team, will be offering kids clinics and demonstrations for all with an auction of on-site creations happening Saturday. The Eagle Valley Land Trust will bring back the popular Cow Patty and Ba Ba Bingo events, raising money for land conservation efforts in an irreverent setting.

Let’s rodeo

Carr Pro Rodeo is returning as the stock contractor for the Eagle County Fair & Rodeo.

“We have had a great relationship with them,” Dahlseid said.

Likewise, Carr’s animals and the PRCA competitors embrace their time in Eagle. For most rodeo cowboys, the Eagle County Fair & Rodeo is a terrific spot to enjoy the Rocky Mountains, a beautiful setting and a great rodeo.

For Joel Schlegel, it’s home. He lives in Burns in northern Eagle County and has been one of the best bareback riders in the region for a long time. In fact, he’s been considered one of the best in pro rodeo, having finished among the top 50 in the world standings several times in his career.

He’s excited to return to compete in front of the home county crowd.

“The committee did up their money this year, which is nice,” Schlegel said. “It’s one of those rodeos that they made a big step a few years ago when they brought in (stock contractor) Pete Carr. That and other things have upped their entries.”

Ted Harbin, the media director for the Eagle County Fair & Rodeo, said having more than 300 competitors committed to the event is significant considering the dozens of other PRCA events that will take place this week including big rodeos in Cheyenne, Wyoming; Deadwood, South Dakota; and Burwell, Nebraska.

“That’s a tough weekend to compete for rodeos, so to be able to still draw numbers like that is great for the Eagle rodeo,” Schlegel said. “I think it’s a great rodeo and a great atmosphere. They still pack the fans, and they’ve got great hospitality.

Some of those 300-plus Eagle-bound contestants include competitors from the National Finals Rodeo. Some of them have even earned the most coveted prizes in the game: World Champion gold buckles.

“It’s a good little spot to go, up there in the mountains and Pete Carr having the stock there,” said Joe Lufkin, a saddle bronc rider from Sallisaw, Oklahoma. “It’s just a good time of year to go. It’s nice to go up there and relax a little in Eagle and get on some good horses.”

Over the years, the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo has been recognized as one of the best events in the PRCA. It has been nominated as Medium Rodeo of the Year, which features just five finalists each year.

“The contestants like it because after you’ve rodeo’ed in Pecos, Texas, and Pretty Prairie, Kansas, where it’s 104 degrees and hot and miserable, it’s nice to go to a good rodeo with good stock and be in a nice, cool temperature,” said Justin Rumford, the six-time PRCA Clown of the Year who will work Eagle for the second time. “It’s just kind of a wind-down of the regular rodeo grind.”

The rodeo isn’t just popular with the contestants. Friday and Saturday shows have been known to sell out. For 2019, Eagle County has increased the seating on the east end of the area by 200 seats, bringing the total seating capacity to 2,500.

“We definitely want people to go online to buy tickets because we have had to turn people away on Friday and Saturday in the past,” said Dahlseid. “We have had to turn away as many as 100 people those two nights.”

To order tickets, visit eaglecounty.us/fairrodeo/tickets. 

Schedule of Events

Wednesday, July 24: Lil’ Buckaroo Night

Kids age 12 and younger receive rodeo tickets for just $1 

9 a.m. — 4-H animal weigh-in at Eagle River Center

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

3 p.m. — Carnival and vendor booths open

4 to 9 p.m. — Kids crafts, petting zoo, pony rides at the festival grounds

4 to 9 p.m. — 4-H exhibits open to the public

4 to 6 p.m. — Local talent exhibition east end of main stage

4 to 8 p.m.  — Talent exhibition at the main stage

7 p.m. — PRCA Rodeo at rodeo arena

Thursday, July 25: Western Heritage Night

9 a.m. to 8 p.m. — 4-H Club and Open Class exhibits open at Eagle River Center 

9 a.m. — 4-H swine show at Eagle River Center 

2 p.m. — 4-H lamb show at Eagle River Center 

3 p.m. — Carnival and vendor booths open 

4 p.m.  — 4-H goat show at Eagle River Center 

4 to 6 p.m. — Local talent exhibition east end of main stage

4 to 8 p.m. — Kid’s crafts, petting zoo, pony rides and Carve Wars chainsaw demonstration at the festival grounds 

7 p.m. — PRCA Rodeo at rodeo arena 

Friday, July 26: Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night

9 a.m. to 8 p.m. — 4-H Club and Open Class exhibits open at Eagle River Center

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

Noon — Carve Wars Kids Academy at the festival grounds

2 p.m. — 4-H Large Animal Round Robin Showmanship at Eagle River Center 

3 p.m. — Carnival and vendor booths open 

4 p.m. — 4-H Small Animal Round Robin Showmanship at Eagle River Center 

4:30 to 8 p.m. — Kid’s crafts, petting zoo, pony rides and Carve Wars at festival grounds 

7 p.m. — PRCA Rodeo at rodeo arena 

9 to 11 p.m. — Free concert featuring Buck Ford at rodeo arena stage 

Saturday, July 27: Patriotic Night

9 a.m. to 8 p.m. — 4-H Club and Open Class exhibits open at Eagle River Center 

9 a.m. to 5 p.m. — Carve Wars chainsaw wood carving at festival grounds

9:30 to 10 a.m. — Pretty Baby contest registration at Eagle River Center 

11 a.m. to 1 p.m. — Cow Patty and Ba Ba Bingo

Noon — Carnival and vendor booths open

Noon — Junior Livestock Barbecue at Eagle River Center (ticketed event)

Noon — Carve Wars Kids Academy at the festival grounds

1 p.m.  — Junior Livestock Auction at Eagle River Center 

3 p.m. — Carve Wars Kids Academy at the festival grounds

3:45 p.m. — Carve Wars chainsaw carving demonstration at festival grounds

5 p.m. — Carve Wars chainsaw wood caving auction at festival grounds

7 p.m.  — PRCA Rodeo at rodeo arena 

9 to 11 p.m. — Free concert featuring Buck Ford at rodeo arena stage




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