A&L: Volunteers make Moffat County Fair possible

Consider the hours of work that go into putting on any kind of major event, such as charitable fundraisers, athletic tournaments, and seasonal festivals.

Then consider the number of volunteers it takes to make such events happen. Take the Moffat County Fair, for example. The amount of manpower necessary to make the fair a success is incredible, and volunteers do most of the work.

Participants in the fair are of all ages, but 4-H and FFA work begins after the previous year’s fair is over.

FFA members learn about their projects at school, but 4-H members are taught by leaders, all volunteers (and some of them 4-H parents). Leaders teach members how to shoot guns and how to be safe while doing it. They teach members how to cook, sew, take photos, build projects from wood, and a whole lot more.

For months, the volunteer Fair Board makes decisions about the coming fair, finds sponsors, writes up the Fair Book, and has committees working on various events. By the end of July, it’s time to get the fairgrounds area ready for the fair.

Think of all the setting up that has to be done in a short time. Tables have to be set up in the Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion and the Hall of Education under the grandstand (where 4-H Completion Day is held).

Photos, art, and quilt racks have to be put up and the stage for the 4-H Fashion Revue readied.

At the barn, Bill Sixkiller, his fairgrounds staff, and volunteers have to get animal pens set up, and alleyways have to be constructed so that animals can enter and exit the show ring.

By this time, volunteers have made plans for special contests, entertainment, and other events. Big tents also have to be set up in the midway area.

And then there are the boxes of supplies that have to be hauled to the fairgrounds from the extension office and distributed to the buildings where they’ll be used. This might not seem like such a big deal, but consider all of the books, entry forms, scoring sheets, entry tags, ribbons, staplers and staples, rubber bands, tape, pencils, Fair Books, and other office supplies that are used.

And that’s not all. Supplies used in judging open exhibits include jar openers, plastic silverware, plastic bags, paper plates, and cups, all used to judge canned and baked goods. All together, boxes and boxes of supplies have to be taken to the fairgrounds.

The setting up (and taking down) of the buildings and moving boxes of supplies is done by volunteers through the trustee program at the Moffat County Jail.

Once the fair begins, volunteers serve as superintendents during 4-H Completion Day, open and 4-H horse shows, open class exhibits, livestock shows, and other events. Superintendents help enter projects/exhibits, keep track of placings, assist the judges, answer questions, and most anything else connected to the judging.

Moffat County Fair Coordinator Carol Haskins said about 50 to 60 volunteers alone worked in the pavilion on open class judging day during last year’s fair.

The coordinating of work to be done by all of these volunteers alone seems mindboggling. That’s why there are coordinators to supervise teams of superintendents in each area.

In addition, a hospitality committee greets people and helps them get entered. The committee also sets up lunch for the judges and snacks for the superintendents.

During livestock judging, volunteers show kids where to set up animals, keep the show ring “moving,” and even how to separate feisty pigs and help catch steers that occasionally pull loose. And, on the night of the livestock sale, volunteers announce, auction off animals, and clerk. Ring men help take bids. A “board man” moves pigs in and out of the ring. This is all done by volunteers.

The fair requires security, too. When the pavilion and Hall of Education are open to the public, volunteers keep watch over exhibits.

And then there are the volunteers who drive the golf carts to give seniors rides around the fairgrounds area and those who are in charge of all the special events.

And when the fair is over, everything has to be dismantled, trash has to be collected, and all of those boxes have to be taken back to the extension office, all work done by volunteers.

“The fair would not happen without the help and dedication of volunteers throughout the community,” Haskins said.

Volunteers, too many to thank individually, made the 2010 Moffat County Fair successful. If you’d like to be a volunteer for next year’s fair, call the extension office at 824-9180.

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