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A bronc rider competes as the sun sets at the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo.
Greg Westfall |

Seventy five years ago, Eagle County residents were emerging from the clutches of the Great Depression and in the mood to celebrate.

Little did they realize they were launching a tradition that would still be happening seven and a half decades later.

The Eagle County Fair and Rodeo marks its 75th anniversary this year. According to the Eagle Valley Enterprise archives, local leaders decided back in 1939 to host a Eagle County Fair and Fall Festival highlighting “exhibits of agriculture and farm home products, 4-H Club achievements and other resources of the county.” A week after the event, the newspaper heralded its success.

“Hundreds of people came from every corner of the county,” reported the Sept. 22, 1939 edition of the Enterprise. An estimated 1,200 people ate the free lunch, served up by Moutlon Chambers, who was assisted by “a bevy of beautiful and efficient young women.”

Longtime Eagle resident George Yost recalled how, as a kid growing up in Dotsero, the fair was big deal. “We didn’t have the best of cars and we didn’t go a lot of places. Heading up to Eagle from Dotsero for the fair was quite a trip,” he said. “The whole county turned out.”

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Mary Jo Gerard, who competed in 4-H as a girl and who served as the fair superintendent for decades, concurred. “It was a countywide effort,” she said. “It was a whole community thing and a big competition, for the women, especially.”

In the early days, the fair was held at the Eagle School grounds, where the Eagle County Building now sits. The event later moved to the Mayer Ranch property before finding a permanent home north of the Eagle River during the 1960s. Generations of local kids have shown animals, busted mutton and assembled displays at the event. Local residents have competed in open class divisions covering everything from apple pie baking to zuchinni cultivativation for 75 years.

Today’s event features Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association competition nightly and entertainment throughout the day. The Junior Livestock Sale on Saturday afternoon continues to be a benchmark event, and it is surrounded by lots of fun for the entire family.

Here are some of the highlights planned as part of the 75th annual Eagle County Fair and Rodeo:

Pro Rodeo Cowboys

Association Competition

What: Nightly rodeo action Thursday through Saturday, July 24-26

Time: 7 p.m. nightly

Where: Eagle County Fairgrounds Arena

Details: The PRCA-sanctioned rodeo will feature 30 national finals rodeo competitors including world-champion bareback riders, barrel racers and bull riders. The 4-H Freedom Riders will kick off the rodeo each night, followed by rodeo events and specialty acts. Rodeo tickets can be purchased online at or at the gate beginning at 5 p.m. each night. Ticket prices for Thursday are Adults (13 and older) $20, Seniors (65 years and older) $15, military (ID required) $15, children (4 – 12 years) $10, children (3 years and under) free. Ticket prices for Friday and Saturday are adults $25, seniors $20, military $20, children $10.

After Rodeo Concerts

What: For rodeo ticket holders, free concerts are planned after the performances.

When: Friday, July 25 — Mark Powll and Lariet

Saturday, July 26 — Chance McKinney

Time: 9:30 p.m.

Where: Festival Grounds

Details: For folks who don’t have rodeo tickets, concert admission is $10

Eagle County Fair

What: 4-H and open class exhibits

When: Thursday through Saturday, July 24-26

Time: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily

Where: Eagle River Center

Details: Tour the exhibit hall to see local 4-H animals and the display of 4-H and open fair entries including horticulture, arts and crafts and baked goods.

Junior Livestock Auction

What: Local 4-H kids will sell their beef, swine, sheep and poultry animals to the highest bidder

When: Saturday, July 26

Time: 12:30 p.m. is the buyers lunch, the sale begins at 1:30 p.m.

Details: The animals are locally raised and the sale marks the culmination of a year’s work for the 4-H participants. Local restaurants and residents can purchase the animals, which are taken directly to processing following the sale. All accounts must be paid at the time of the sale, with personal check, cash, certified funds or all major credit cards. Please make checks payable to “Junior Livestock Sales Commission.”

County Showdown

What: Returning for its third year is the Country Showdown hosted by KSKE-Ski Country radio.

When: Thursday, July 24, and Friday, July 26

Time: 5:30 to 7 p.m., before the rodeo

Where: Rodeo grounds stage

Details: After an opening round of competition concludes Thursday, the top five vocalists will perform Friday. The contest winner will advance to the state finals.

Bucking Brewfest

What: Craft beer tasting

When: Thursday through Saturday, July 24-26

Time: 5 to 7:30 p.m.

Where: Rodeo grounds area

Details: Colorado craft beers will be available for tasting. The cost is $12 for six tastings. Additionally, on Thursday, company representatives will be on site to provide additional information.

Randy Campbell Memorial

Mutton Bustin’

What: Every little kid’s favorite wild west rodeo event. Future rodeo cowboys and cowgirls between the ages of 5 and 8 years are welcome to take part in this action-packed, sheep-riding event.

When: Sign up nightly, Thursday through Saturday from 6 to 6:45 p.m.

Where: West side of rodeo arena

Details: Contestants must been between the ages of 5 and 8 years and the weight limit is 55 pounds. A parent or guardian’s signature is required. A 20-rider lottery drawn each night at 6:45 p.m. Must be present to win the lottery. Entry fee is $20 per child – cash only.

Pretty Baby Contest

What: Open to babies ages 0-2 years

When: Registration is Saturday, July 27, from 9 to 9:30 a.m. Judging is Saturday, July 27, at 10 a.m.

Where: Eagle River Center

Details: Costume changes are allowed for each category and contestants can enter in all six categories, but can only win once. Eagle County Fair & Rodeo will donate a $25 educational savings account at Wells Fargo in Eagle to the winner in each category.

Categories: Best “Dressed for the Fair & Rodeo”

Looks Most Like Mom/Pop

Best Beach Wear Ensemble

Best Hairdo

Prettiest Smile in Eagle County

Most Patriotic

Cooks’s Racing Pigs

What: Racing since 1986, Cook’s Racing Pigs is one of the nation’s original pig racing shows.

When: Friday, July 25 at 3:30, 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, July 26 at 1:30, 3:30, 5:30 and

7:30 p.m.

(Race times are subject to change)

Where: Festival Grounds

Details: Cook’s Racing Pigs are making their debut at the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo. Shows are free and fair attendees can watch as four pigs at a time race around a U-shaped track. Spectators can pick up a free betting ticket, color-coded to match the four competing pigs. Winners take home a blue ribbon if their “athlete” wins.

King BMX Stunt Show

What: King BMX Stunt Show bicycle performances feature high-flying aerial stunts, such as back flips and tail whips, and mind-boggling technical maneuvers executed on the ground and ramps.

When: Friday, July 25 at 4:30 and 6:30

Saturday, July 26 at 12:30, 4:30, 6:30

Where: Festival Grounds

Details: King BMX riders have competed at the X Games, Gravity Games and Dew Action Sports Tour, have been featured on Fox Sports and Monday Night Football, and are sure to be a crowd-stopper at the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo.

Great Northern Carnival

What: What’s a fair without carnival rides?

When: Thursday, July 24 rides open at 3 p.m.

Friday, July 25 rides open at 3 p.m.

Saturday, July 26, rides open at 12 p.m.

Ticket Prices: $1 per ticket

$20 for 22 tickets

$45 for 60 tickets

Rides require 3 and 4 tickets each

Details: Offering a variety of rides and food concessions, The Great Northern Carnival strives to maintain the best possible family experience.

For a glimpse of some of the rides and attractions that will be coming to town, visit their website at

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