Moffat County’s 100th Fair: Babies biggest crop at first county fair | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County’s 100th Fair: Babies biggest crop at first county fair

Maybell played host to Moffat County's first fair on Labor Day — Sept. 2, 1918.

"By far the best feature of the occasion was the baby contest," read an article in the Moffat County Courier, Number 3, Sept. 5, 1918, which might be seen as curious, as the baby show was added to the schedule late.

"Determined to prove themselves worthy of the honor and distinction of pulling off Moffat County's first fair, citizens of Maybell are constantly devising means to make the meeting more interesting," reported the Craig Empire, Number 31, Aug. 21, 1918. "At a meeting held last week, it was decided to offer prizes for the county's best production in babies."

On fair day, three doctors — Day, Arborgast and Atkins — and three ladies — Mrs. Pherson. Mrs. Sultz and Mrs. Templeton — were assigned the task of judging the bountiful crop of 36 babies, as parents and spectators filled the town church to overflowing.

"Some of the prettiest babies in the world were in this contest; there were girl babies and boy babies, little babies and big babies, good babies and bad babies, blonde babies, dark babies and red-headed babies, but one and all were the very finest in the country," reported the Moffat County Bell, Volume 3, Number 22, Sept. 5, 1918.

And the judging of the babies — they took that part pretty seriously.

Recommended Stories For You

Under the direction of Mrs. Dupree, babies have divided into three classes by age: birth to age 1, 1-year-olds and 2- and 3-year-olds.

The ladies awarded points based on facial and ocular expressions, intelligence, tractability, attention, animation and disposition.

The doctors measured each child’s length, width and circumference of head, and front of head, symmetry of head, pupillary distance and shape of eyes, shape, size and position of ears, shape and patency of nose, shape and condition of jaw and tonsils, number, shape, size and condition of teeth. They also performed a general examination, which evaluated such things as height, weight, circumference of the chest and abdomen, symmetry, quality of skin and fat, quality of muscles and bones of skull, spine, chest, limbs and feet.

"A beautiful showing they made in their little white dresses and suits, with pink and blue and white ribbons, with blond and brown and red curls and with 'Buster Brown' bobs and 'Mary Jane' bows. Sturdy little legs and dimpled arms, laughing babies and crying babies, gurgling babies and cooing babies, babies of all kinds and ages, but all the babies a credit to Moffat County, and a splendid showing for our best crop," reported the Bell, Volume 3, Number 22, Sept. 5, 1918.

The judges that year declared the winners to be:
• 8-month-old Richard Powell, son of Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Powell, of Craig, for the youngest class.

• Kenneth Bicknell, son of Mr. and Mrs. Bicknell, of Maybell, for age 1 to 2 years old.

• Ruth Strasberger, daughter of Mrs. Cora Strasberger, for age 2 to 3 years old.

George Welch gave the prize of one-half dozen photographs to the winner in each class.

A baby picture was taken of Richard Powell 100 years ago as a prize for being declared one of the county’s best babies.

"I always wondered why there were baby pictures of my uncle but not my mom," said Carolyn Eckert, of Steamboat Springs, a descendant of the Powell family. "Richard was my uncle. My mother was a year younger and never got a baby picture."

Eckert, one of four granddaughters of Mrs. and Mr. Powell, said her grandparents moved to Craig in April 1917, when J.W. Powell became manager of the Dickinson-Owings Lumber Company.

"J.W. Powell of Denver is the new manager of the local D. & O. Lumber yards. Meeting J.W. Powell for the first time, we straightened our back, squared our shoulders and stretched our neck. But 'twasn't no use he's six foot five!" Wrote the editor of the Craig Empire.

The family lived at a home on Sixth and Rose Street in Craig until D. & O. was sold.

"Mr. and Mrs. Powell and family will go to Kansas City … for a few months. Mr. Powell may enter business in Northwestern Colorado later," reported the Craig Empire, Number 50, Jan. 7, 1920.

The family ultimately returned to Cincinnati, Ohio, clearing the way for other cute Moffat County babies to win in a contest that has become a regular fair feature.

As a young woman, Eckert lived with her uncle for a time and had heard stories about his award.

"He became a principal of a high school and died in 1974. He was a tall man," she said.

One hundred years after eight-month-old Richard Powell was declared one of Moffat County's best babies, the Moffat County Cattlewomen are sponsoring the Cowboy Baby Contest and 11 a.m. Sat. Aug. 11, 2018.

"I would like to attend the contest in honor of my uncle, but right now, I have to work," Eckert said.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.