'Blue Jeans and Country Dreams' at the county fair

"Blue Jeans and Country Dreams" is the theme for the 2008 Rio Blanco County Fair which will take place at the Rio Blanco Fairgrounds in Meeker. Though the fair officially opens Wednesday, some events will take place before that.

The fair is dedicated to Mable Banta, a long-time fair supporter. Bill Ekstrom, Rio Blanco Extension Agent, said Banta has been a fair exhibitor, superintendent and judge.

"She's a tremendous supporter," he said.

The fair started with the open roping horse show Friday evening. The traditional open horse show will take place today, July 26. A contest to select the All-Around Horse is unique to the fair.

The All-Around Horse competition is open to anyone- not just Rio Blanco residents. Each horse competes in 10 events, including roping, cutting, Western pleasure and poles. At the end of the day, the top five horses are selected and compete in a run-off just before the Junior Livestock Sale on Aug. 2.

"The winning horse wins quite a reward," Ekstrom said.

The reward, a saddle, is donated by Marvine Ranch, Wenschhof Cattle Company, Great American CCU, Bill and Phyllis Lake, Kai Turner, Rio Blanco Realty, Gary and Debbie Smith and Buffalo Horn Ranch.

Something else unique to the Rio Blanco Fair is the use of ultrasound during the weigh-in of market animals Wednesday. Ultrasound is used to determine the amount of back fat and cover in the junior market beef, sheep, swine and goats.

The animals must have a certain amount of "quality" or they are not allowed to compete in the market shows or be sold during the Junior Livestock Sale.

"The ultrasound detection assures buyers (at the Junior Livestock Sale) that the 4-H and FFA animals are of quality meat," Eckstrom said.

The Grand Champion market animals are chosen during traditional judging, but Grand Champion awards also are given as a result of the ultrasound findings.

Ekstrom said that sometimes a market animal wins Champion in both categories.

Livestock shows will begin Aug. 31 with swine showmanship, rabbit, poultry, and goat contests during the day and swine market classes in the evening. A pig barbecue, put on by 4-H, will take place during the market swine competition.

Friday, the sheep show will be held early in the day, and the Rio Blanco Woolgrowers will host a "Lamb Kabob" barbecue. The beef show will take place on Friday night, and another barbecue will be put on by the Rio Blanco Stockgrowers.

Fairgoers can attend the annual Lion's Club Barbecue prior to the Junior Livestock Sale on Aug. 2. An award ceremony will begin at 5:30 p.m. and the sale at 6 p.m.

Dessa Linsley, Rio Blanco 4-H Youth Development Agent, explained that the silent auction is not a fundraiser, nor do exhibitors have to put exhibits in the auction. All the money goes back to the exhibitor.

To have an exhibit in the silent auction, the exhibitor will fill out a bidding card, with a minimum bid, which will be placed next to the item for sale. Bidding will open at 6 p.m. Thursday to Aug. 2. The highest bidder wins, and the exhibitor keeps the profits.

Linsley said, "The auction showcases local artistic talent, opens doors for them, and gives them a chance to make some money."

She added, "There may be some people who have never thought about using their creative talents for money."

There's a change in the 4-H Cake Decorating Contest this year. It will take place at 1 p.m. Aug. 2. The contest will be followed by an open Cake Decorating Contest. Cakes and decorating supplies will be furnished, and 4-H members will be judges.

The Rio Blanco Fair offers unique competitions for exhibitors and a lot for fairgoers to see.

Bill Ekstrom summed up the fair philosophy. "Our emphasis is on people," he said.

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