Eagle County Fair and Rodeo is under way | VailDaily.com

Eagle County Fair and Rodeo is under way

Special to the DailyOne of the Freedom Riders equestrian drill team members performs during last year's Eagle County Fair and Rodeo. The 71st annual event is under way, with contests and activities for all ages along with PRCA Rodeo action Wednesday through Saturday.

EAGLE, Colorado – The Eagle County Fair and Rodeo may be the community’s long-running and most traditional celebration, but it can’t be called stodgy.

In fact, rodeo action may well be called the original X Games.

The 71st annual Eagle County Fair and Rodeo returned to the fairgrounds complex in Eagle on Saturday. Local 4-H members will compete through Tuesday in everything from a dog show to a working ranch horse contest. On Wednesday, the action will turn over to Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association competition. Along the way, county residents will have the chance to show off their baking, growing or handiwork skills.

“I was talking to one of our sponsors recently and he said that events like the fair make this community more than the town where you run out and pick up your mail,” said Laurie Asmussen, fair coordinator. “Events like this build community.”

Community building is what happens as residents browse through the open class exhibits and meander along the midway to sample corn dogs and funnel cakes. It builds as they sit side by side at the rodeo arena to watch bull riders and barrel racers. In fact, the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo can actually boast that under one banner it brings out the best in small-town atmosphere and world-class competition.

For the past two years, competitors have chosen the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo as the best medium-size event in the region. Last summer, rodeo spectators witnessed a world-record bareback ride.

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“When you get to the level of being a PRCA-sanctioned rodeo, it means a lot,” said Asmussen. “The level of competitors here is as good as you get in Calgary or Cheyenne or Greeley.”

The fair and rodeo schedule is a bit leaner and meaner for 2010 in light of the national and local economy issues. For 2010, the event has been pared back to four days of rodeo competition without a lead-in weekend event. The 4-H’ers were the focus of the first weekend, and the event shifts over to rodeo action Wednesday.

But while the event scaled back, organizers have been careful to retain some of the key elements that have made it so successful. Renowned rodeo announcer Les Ohlhauser will be back, as will stock contractor Carr Pro Rodeo.

Carr officials noted the animals seem to enjoy the cooler weather at the Eagle County event.

“With the mountain air, the animals just love it,” said pick-up man Paul Peterson.

Peterson works dozens of rodeos every year, including some of the biggest events in the sport. But he noted that last year’s world championship bareback ride – turned in by Ryan Gray of Cheney, Wyo., on board a horse called Grass Dancer – was something really special.

“They were all on top of their game that week. Grass Dancer was good, but everything was bucking. Coming from Texas and bucking in that mountain air was just great for all those animals.”

A new addition to the rodeo this year will be barrel man Troy Lerwill. Known as one of the best specialty acts in rodeo, Lerwill earns his nickname, “The Wild Child,” every night when he revs up his dirt bike to jump over a Dodge pickup truck and a Bloomer trailer. The stunt never fails to thrill rodeo audiences.

“What I am really looking forward to is having Troy Lerwill,” said Brad Higgins, fair manager. “His trailer jump is going to look so cool in our arena and the fans are just going to flip.”

PRCA action gets under way nightly at the fairground arena at 8 p.m. On Wednesday and Thursday, tickets are $12 for adults (ages 13 and older), $8 of children (ages 6 to 12 years) and seniors (65 years and older). Kids ages 5 and younger are free. On Friday and Saturday, tickets are $16 for adults (ages 13 and older), $10 for children (ages 6 to 12 years) and seniors (65 years and older). Kids ages 5 and younger are free.

For more information about the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo, visit http://www.eaglecounty.us and click on the fair and rodeo tab.

Today

7 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. Enter all perishable Open Class exhibits – Eagle River Center

9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Open Class and 4-H judging interviews (Judging closed to public.)

1 p.m. 4-H Poultry Show – Eagle River Center

6 p.m. Open Gymkhana Competition – Large outdoor arena

All pens available – Livestock can begin arriving.

Wednesday – Family Day at the Fair

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

9 a.m. 4-H Rabbit Show – Eagle River Center

2 p.m. Weigh-in of sale animals begin

3 p.m. Carnival opens

4 p.m. – 8 p.m. Free stage entertainment

5 p.m. All animals to be in place

6 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. Register Cookie Jars in the Eagle River Center for the Cookie Jar Contest – Theme: “Colorado 4-H 100 Years”

7 p.m. Judging of the Cookie Jar Contest – Eagle River Center

8 p.m. PRCA Rodeo – Large outdoor arena

Thursday – Honky Tonk Thursday

9 a.m. – 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

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 p.m. – 8 p.m. Free stage entertainment

6 p.m. – 6:45 p.m. Registration for the High Altitude Artisan Bread Contest

7 p.m. Judging of High Altitude Artisan Bread Contest – Eagle River Center

8 p.m. PRCA Rodeo – Large outdoor arena

Friday – Tough Enough to Wear Pink Day

9 a.m. – 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

3 p.m. Carnival opens

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

3 p.m. Colorado 4-H Celebrating 100 years, 4-H Birthday Cake Served – Eagle River Center

3 p.m. – 8 p.m. Free stage entertainment

6 p.m. Bingo – Eagle River Center

8 p.m. PRCA Rodeo

10 p.m. – 11 p.m. Free stage entertainment

Saturday – Salute to Veterans

8 a.m. Jr. Livestock Auction setup – Eagle River Center

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

10:30 a.m. Pretty Baby Contest Registration – Eagle River Center

11 a.m. Pretty Baby Contest – Eagle River Center

Noon Carnival opens

3 p.m. – 8 p.m. Free Stage Entertainment

Noon Junior Livestock Barbecue – Eagle River Center

12:30 p.m. 4-H Public Fashion Revue

1:30 p.m. Junior Livestock Auction

2 p.m. Homemade Salsa Contest registration – the Eagle River Center

3:30 p.m. Homemade Salsa Contest – People’s Choice – Come taste your vote!

8 p.m. PRCA Rodeo/Junior Livestock Buyer Night

10 p.m. – 11 p.m. Free Stage Entertainment