Fair competitions return with Jeffco 4-H Junior Fair

County fair has a new name and look but the focus on youth continues

Staff report
Posted 7/30/21

Jeffco 4-H kids are busy preparing their cows, pigs and goats for Jeffco’s annual county fair. But when they get to the fairgrounds, they may no longer fully recognize the event they know and love. …

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Fair competitions return with Jeffco 4-H Junior Fair

County fair has a new name and look but the focus on youth continues

Posted

Jeffco 4-H kids are busy preparing their cows, pigs and goats for Jeffco’s annual county fair. But when they get to the fairgrounds, they may no longer fully recognize the event they know and love.

That’s because the county announced in 2019 that it was dissolving the annual fair and festival, which included food trucks, bands and rodeos and other festivities along with the kid’s 4-H shows and competitions that are the centerpiece of the fair.

However, those shows and competitions, as well as the annual livestock auction and youth market, are now continuing on with a smaller new event called the Jeffco 4-H Junior Fair.

Now, after a year in which the fair had to be scaled back even further because of COVID-19, Jeffco is set to get its first taste of this new version of the fair from July 31-Aug. 8.

Jaren Tolman, a Jeffco 4-H leader whose kids will be competing in the fair, said that while the changes mean attendees will no longer be able to enjoy as activities as they have in the past, the actual 4-H activities will look much as the same as they have in previous years.

The one major change? The fair events are now spread over a full week, a change that was instituted last year in response to the challenges of putting on the fair during the pandemic and which proved successful.

With the fair again open to the public again Tolman said there is an opportunity for the public to see what the fair is all about by attending some of the events.

“It’s free and the public can come to any of the shows,” said Tolman. “The bars will be open and they walk through them, meet the kids, talk to them, all of those things.”

This year’s fair will also see the return of the livestock auction and youth market. During the auction, each kid showing livestock in the fair gets to auction one of their animals to members of the public.

The auction, which starts at 5 p.m. on Aug. 7 is followed by the youth market, where fair participants where fair participants sell the rest of their meat while participants in the non-livestock portions of the fair, such as cake decorating and leatherworks, can also sell their projects. The auction is preceded by a barbecue dinner (dinner tickets are $7 at 4 p.m.).

For many of the fair participants, just being able to hold a somewhat normal fair at all is a cause for celebration given not only the pandemic and the changes that have resulted from a county decision to cut costs at the fairground by limiting activities at the fairground to those that involve “youth, agriculture and equine activities.”

But while there are still plenty of uncertainties that are still to be worked out when it comes to the future of both the fairgrounds and the fair itself, Tollman said there is also cause for optimism as the number of kids participating in the fair is up significantly from recent years and many of those participants are now involved in more activities than ever before.

That’s exciting, Tollman said, because it is the experiences of those kids, not add-ons like food trucks and concerts, that are ultimately why the fair is worth having, keeping around and checking out, even if you don’t have kids involved.

“My favorite part is always just observing the youth that are competing in the fair,” he said. “Very rarely will you see a group of kids that are in competition but then helping each other, say, show a lamb if they’ve never done it before right before they compete with that person. The sportsmanship that you’ll see at the fair is second to none.”

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