What a fine fair | VailDaily.com

What a fine fair

The Eagle County Fair & Rodeo last week wrapped up its 75th celebration of life as it once was in our fair valley, and, it seems, a good time was had by most.

The annual rodeo was a big hit, and despite less-than-perfect weather for the Saturday performance, the grandstands were packed by the time the national anthem was sung by local high schooler Jett Quealy — who did a fine job, by the way.

Saturday’s rodeo gave a glimpse of where our visitors came from last week. When asked by the announcer what states people were from, Texas and California drew the biggest roars.

But the heart of the fair is beyond the rodeo, the carnival rides and the corn dogs and Navajo tacos.

The heart of any county fair is the people who work much of the year in preparation for it. From adults who enter everything from needlepoint to garden produce in the open class to our local 4H kids who compete for ribbons with their animals and handiwork, countless hours of work were on display last week.

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Fair visitors see only the end result, and unless you’ve cleaned a cage, mucked out a stall or have been pushed into a fence by a strong-willed sheep, pig or steer, it’s hard to appreciate the kind of effort that goes into those displays.

Some of those who do understand the work 4H kids put into their projects — especially livestock projects — show their appreciation at the annual junior livestock auction.

This year’s auction raised more than $200,000 for all the kids, a new record. That money usually goes into college funds or next year’s projects.

Something different happened this year, with many of the kids donating all or part of their auction checks to the Scott family, a longtime local ranching family whose members have given untold hours to the fair, the 4H and the community.

That family had a livestock disaster this year that cost them their entire cattle herd. Donations from the kids will help the family rebuild.

That sense of community is the center of the heart of the fair, and we’re proud to call these people our neighbors.

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