First rodeo in six years a treat for all By Patty Unruh Let me tell y’all a story ‘bout the Gilpin County Fair. August 16th and 17th, everyone was there. At the Gilpin County Fairgrounds, it shore was lots of fun, and we can’t wait till next year, when there’s another one! Fair, that is. Rodeos … big tent shows. Why don’t you set a spell, pardner, and let me fill you in? Before I do, I’d like to give a shout out to Vicki Nemec and all the other Gilpin County employees who worked so hard on the fair, plus all the great sponsors of our shindig: Affinity Gaming and its affiliates, Golden Gates Casino, Mardi Gras Casino, and Golden Gulch Casino; Office Stuff, Inc.; United Power; Sundance Café and Lodge; Iron H LLC; Lodge Casino; Mountain Mocha Café; and 4TheLuvOfDogs. Now, back to my story. Everybody and their dog was there from far and near, trading howdies, catching up on everyone’s news, and treating the kiddos to a snow cone or mebbe a funnel cake. And, will wonders never cease, it didn’t even rain, and that’s a first! So, here’s what we all done did: Rodeo We welcomed the Lee Miller Rodeo, all the way from Strasburg, Colorado, for Gilpin’s first rodeo since Little Britches back in 2008. They kept things hoppin’ Saturday afternoon with bull riding, bareback, saddle bronc, calf roping, and break-away events, as well as mutton bustin’ and a boot race for the young ‘uns. More than 30 riders participated in the rodeo, some from as close as Idaho Springs. The Mardi Gras Casino, the fair’s newest partner, sponsored the goings-on. Lee Miller told me he’s been performing rodeos for the past 20 years. He currently brings his show to Idaho Springs, Fraser, and the eastern plains of the state. Besides entertaining folks with fast action rides, Miller’s announcer kept things moving with a steady stream of info about rodeo history. It all started, he said, when the horse that couldn’t be rode met the cowboy that couldn’t be throwed. He also explained reasons for cowboys’ tools of the trade and kept up a good-natured banter with the rodeo clown. Unfortunately, not all of the contestants were able to make the fair, due to delays on I-70 from road work at the tunnels. And Miller said that another fly in the ointment – literally — was a horse virus that also hung things up a bit. The virus, which is transmitted to horses by flies, gives horses what amounts to a bad cold. Miller was pleased as punch, though, to be in Gilpin County and encouraged folks, “Keep on supporting rodeo.” Pancake Breakfast The fair wouldn’t be the fair without the High Country Auxiliary’s famous pancake breakfast on Sunday morning. Right after cowboy church, where folks praised the Lord, it was time to go tie on the feedbag with pancakes, scrambled eggs, and sausage. Nobody makes it like HCA, and y’all know they can feed a multitude without breakin’ a sweat. It’s one of their biggest fundraisers to help Timberline Fire Protection District with equipment that keeps us all safe, and we thank ‘em kindly. Arena Events Besides Saturday’s rodeo, folks gathered for the perennial favorite, mutton bustin,’ where little guys got the ride of their lives on a frisky sheep. There was also the gymkhana and buckle series finale, log splitting contest, hay bale race, and the family-friendly bonfire and free dinner of hot dogs and s’mores – yum! 4-H Activities Gilpin’s 4-H Club worked like field hands manning the wristband and food fun booths, running games at Saturday night’s bonfire, taking sign-ups for the wildly popular mutton bustin’, and performing the grand entry on Sunday morning. Club members and their leaders shot off rockets timed to the National Anthem for the grand entry, and former 4-H’er Ali Nelson galloped her horse to Johnny Cash’s patriotic song, “The Ragged Old Flag.” As that lil’ gal rode her steed around the arena, she bore a real tattered flag belonging to 4-H leaders Joe and Staci McBrayer. Joe’s grannie was faithful to fly it every day while he served in Iraq, and that’s how that flag got its battle scars. Would you believe 773 folks signed up for wristbands! That’s a record! Mostly young ‘uns, but a few brave grown-ups. Staci says, “4-H was honored to be a part of the 2014 Gilpin County Fair!” Exhibit Barn Kids flocked to the barn, where Gilpin County School’s Booster Club had games, including a golf challenge, football and basketball toss, bean bag game, and lots more. Each game cost just one dollar. Proceeds go to Gilpin athletics. The PTA pitched in by loaning its games for the occasion. Prizes were awarded to the children who played. The barn also hosted a free petting zoo with super cute critters and kids who loved to hug ‘em. Free pony rides were also a main attraction. Rocky Mountain Slacklines of Fort Collins challenged all comers interested in trying their luck at this balancing act. Similar to tightrope walking, a slackline is a nylon or polyester webbing strung between two anchor points. These were fairly low to the ground and, thankfully, had mats underneath. Rec Center On the way in to the Gilpin County Community Center, people were greeted by veterans, who were letting folks know about the memorial brick renovation project that stands in front of the building. Our brave vets from VFW Post 7563 and American Legion Post 166 handed out poppies and gratefully accepted donations for the project. They’ve given so much for our freedoms, so be sure and keep helping ‘em out now, hear? The Center’s lower level was home to vendors offering all kinds of good stuff: handmade walking sticks, coffee, soup mixes and spices, window and door frames, toys, jewelry, photographs, and baked goods, plus booths offering child ID services and foster parenting info. Kids were entertained with a bounce house and face painting. The Fairway Friends and neighbors, this was not to be missed – free rides on the bungee trampoline, mechanical bull, jumbo slide, and fire truck. You could even sit in the cockpit of a real USAF A-7D single-seat tactical close air support aircraft (now there’s a mouthful)! Speaking of mouthfuls, there was all kinds of vittles at the food vendors. And welllll, doggies! The dog agility contest and a dog magic show both put man’s (and gals’) best friends through their paces. As if that wasn’t enough, folks could see a Tae Kwon Do demo, a high-steppin’ performance by the X-Treme Dance Force Troup, gourmet contest awards and auction, talent show, and other outstanding performances under the fair tent. Free EKG’s, Timberline fire demos, 911 information, and even pet vaccinations and microchip services were available. Guess that about winds us up. So, now it’s time to say good-bye to Gilpin County kin. I’d sure like to thank you folks fer kindly droppin’ in. You’re all invited back next year to this locality, to have a heapin’ helpin’ of our hospitality!