Agriculture & Livestock: 7 counties to participate in Northwestern Colorado Expo

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From Monday through Thursday, Jackson County will host the 2011 Northwestern Colorado Exposition. The event will take place at the Jackson County Fairgrounds in Walden.

Debbie Alpe, Colorado State University Extension Agent for Jackson County, said she couldn’t remember just how long the Northwestern Colorado Exposition has been held, but it is a “longstanding event.”

Seven Northwest Colorado counties — Moffat, Routt, Rio Blanco, Grand, Eagle, Garfield, and Jackson — take turns hosting the event.

The Expo is for 4-H livestock, dog, and horse projects, though this year, as a precaution in light of EHV-1 concerns, no 4-H equines will be allowed to participate in the event.

According to Alpe, this has “impacted Expo numbers significantly.”

The annual Expo is an educational event, set up to be a learning experience for 4-H livestock, horse, and dog projects. It is not a livestock show or a county fair. Although there will be competitions in dog obedience/showmanship and livestock showmanship and species market and breeding classes, the real purpose is to teach and give “hands on” experience to 4-H members on how to have successful projects at the county fair.

Alpe explained that although some senior 4-H members attend the Expo, there are a lot of first-year members in attendance.

Participants with dog projects will arrive and check in from 8 to 8:45 a.m. Monday. From 9 a.m. to noon, dog obedience and showmanship clinics will run concurrently with rotation changes every hour.

Then, the written skill-a-thon test will be given at 1 p.m. Additional clinics (to be announced later) will take place from 2 to 3 p.m., followed by interviews and pictures of 4-H members and their dogs. A barbecue and “Flick-and-Float” will round out the day.

On Tuesday, 4-Hers will compete in a dog show (obedience and showmanship). Awards and completion certificates will be presented that afternoon, followed by checkout.

As with each Expo, livestock members will spend the first day in workshops with resource specialists from the livestock industry. This year, the emphasis will be on improving market livestock skills in grooming, showmanship, and on improving animal husbandry skills.

The second day, livestock project members will put their learned skills to use. However, the focus of the Expo is on education, and competitiveness is downplayed.

According to the schedule for 4-H member participation in livestock, check in will take place from 9 to 11 a.m. Wednesday. Animals will be weighed in and set up in their stalls. Pictures will be taken with animals from 10 to 11 a.m.

Following a welcome and general meeting for parents and participants, from 11 to 11:15 a.m., livestock members will complete a written skill-a-thon test. After lunch, participants will attend educational seminars, in two rotations. Seminars will include “Marketing Your Livestock Projects” (one for beef and swine and the other for sheep and goats) and “Body Condition and Nutrition of Show Animals” (one for beef and swine and the other for sheep and goats).

“Hands on” showmanship, grooming, and fitting workshops and demonstrations will go on from 3 to 6 p.m., and project interviews will also be held during that time. Following a barbecue, 4-Hers can participate in a “Livestock Jeopardy.” And then, after an already-full day, 4-H members will work on animal preparation.

The next day, a Livestock Show will take place, with classes in showmanship and species market and breeding animals. After lunch, awards and certificates will be presented.

Some of the awards that will be presented to junior, intermediate, and senior divisions in livestock and dog projects include: test award, interview score award, and showmanship award. In addition, a herdsmanship award will be presented to one exhibit in each livestock species, and a kennel steward award given for a dog project. Awards and ribbons will be given to market/breeding classes of livestock and for dog obedience classes.

The county that averages the highest overall score in showmanship will be presented a traveling award. A county must have more than two participants to be eligible.

The Expo will be busy days for 4-H members, indeed.

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