County Fair includes old and new

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A change from the old-fashioned idea of the county fair, this year’s event in Teller County includes a leap into technology while maintaining its agricultural distinction.

To enhance the pizazz on the county fair this year, the organizers are lengthening the event from one to two weeks, including two full weekends, from July 27 to Aug 4.

In a time when young people are the technological gurus of the age, the fair offers an explosion of opportunities at Education Day July 30. A scavenger hunt, aka geocaching, for kids highlights this year’s theme of “Pioneer Days to Modern Ways.”

Rather than running around looking all over the place for hidden objects, kids have a technological edge with a GPS locator. The hunt and other youth activities are intended to spotlight the know-how of the county’s 4H members.

“Ultimately, we’re hoping kids will get excited about 4H,” said Connie Smith, a fair volunteer. “The clubs give kids a different experience compared to what they might get sitting in front of the television or playing video games.”

With robotics, gardening, cake decorating, petting zoo and show-and-tell exhibits on conservation and renewable energy, the kids’ activities combine the old and the new.

In a rural county where learning to shoot is a rite of passage, Education Day offers enhanced opportunities.

“We’ll have an air rifle booth and presentations about how fun shooting can be,” said Mark Platten, director of Colorado’s extension office in Teller County, which coordinates the 4H program. “Bob Tyler’s presentations are about understanding, respect, responsibility, safety and the mental aspect of guns.”

For adults as well as students, a vital part of the county fair is the open-class judging where residents get that yearly chance to exhibit their expertise in fields ranging from cooking and horticulture to arts and crafts.

The organizers have emphasized that the deadline for entries has changed from the traditional Friday to Thursday, Aug. 1. Entries are accepted from 9 to 11:30 a.m.

Another change is the time of the 4H livestock auction, which is at 6 p.m. Aug. 2. “A lot of kids are successful enough in the auction that they’re paying for their college,” Smith said.

The fair opens on a sentimental note with a performance by the Flying W Wranglers, who lost their permanent home, the Flying W Ranch, in the Waldo Canyon Fire last year.

The Wranglers perform from 7 to 9 p.m. July 27 at the fairgrounds in Cripple Creek. For information and a schedule, go to: http://www.tcafas.org/schedule--map.html.