Dedicated to the devoted

84th annual Moffat County Fair dedicated to fairgrounds manager Bill Sixkiller

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The horse is new to the sport. The man is not.

As the steer breaks from the chute, the horse steps back and only jumps forward at the urgings of the man. The horse's nervousness is not reflected in the man and the steer doesn't make it halfway down the arena before a rope catches around his head and the chase is over.

The worn saddle doesn't read "Team Roping Champion" for nothing.

As another rider approached after a botched chase, the man offered tips an effort to share his knowledge and improve the skills of youth.

Bill Sixkiller loves horses. He loves roping. And he lives in the perfect place to be close to both the fairgrounds.

Sixkiller has worked as the Moffat County Fairgrounds manager since 1984, taking over a position his father held for several years. Sixkiller's efforts during the annual fair, his own experience in 4-H and FFA, and his willingness to help others succeed earned him a unique position at the 84th annual county fair this year's fair was dedicated to him.

He understands nearly every phase of what fair contestants go through, especially those who compete in the barn.

Sixkiller was born in Glenwood Springs and was raised in Eagle, Colo. His father owned a potato farm. Sixkiller spent his youth working on that farm and several others. He was a member of 4-H, raising and showing cattle and horses, which are still his favorite.

He and his family moved to Craig in 1971 and Sixkiller transferred to Moffat County High School, where he graduated in 1975.

He brought his love of horses to Craig and continued to participate in FFA and 4-H.

His children, Brandy and Ryan, are two of many youth that Sixkiller has helped with 4-H and FFA projects.

"I help a lot of kids here. I help get them started," he said.

Sixkiller still trains horses.

"I trained a lot of horses these kids use around here," he said. "I trained the horses and trained the kids."

He has four horses of his own, which he boards at the fairgrounds one of the perks of the job, he said.

Sixkiller said he thought of following in his father's footsteps and becoming a farmer or a rancher, but it just didn't work out.

"This job right here is about as good as it can be and not be there," he said.

Despite his position on the 4-H Foundation board, Sixkiller said he's not as active in the organization as he used to be. He limits his participation because he is preparing the fairgrounds.

"I don't get to see much of the show, we're so busy," he said.

Most preparations involve making improvements that have been suggested from the year before. One particularly involved project this year was to run electricity to the barn.

In addition, Sixkiller, his one full-time and two part-time staff members work to set up pens, bleachers and shelves in the pavilion.

"It's a long week. There's lots of work," he said. "I guess my favorite event is the sale. I like to see how the animals sell, see if the prices stay up, but I don't get to see much else."

Sixkiller said he starts work at around 5 a.m. and doesn't quit sometimes until after midnight during the week of the fair. Quitting earlier is next to impossible, he said, considering his home is at the fairgrounds.

"I don't get to get away," he said. "They'll come knocking on my door with questions."

There are many benefits to attending county fairs, Sixkiller said, but he believes the biggest one is seeing people you don't normally get to see.

"Sometimes that's the only time of the year that you get to see a lot of them," he said. "It's a lot of work to get it all together, but when you see all the fun that everyone is having, it's worth it."

When not working, Sixkiller likes to hone his roping skills. He competes for fun and prizes. He's got a collection of awards, belt buckles and saddles won for his skill in the saddle, with a rope and training a horse.

Having the 84th annual Moffat County Fair dedicated to him came as a surprise, but a neat one, he said.

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