Grand County Historical Association will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Grand County Fair and Rodeo at its upcoming Annual Dinner.
The event on Saturday, Nov. 10, in Granby features special guest Janet Engel in a Rodeo Round-Up Panel of local rodeo legends swapping stories, enlivened by captivating rodeo photography from yesteryear. Ms. Engel, daughter of Joyce and George Engel, is a professional barrel racer who has participated in rodeos for decades throughout Grand County.
One hundred years ago, the Grand County Fair made its debut in 1912, the first county fair held in northwest Colorado. The Middle Park Times carried the headline, "Best Show Ever Held in Grand County." The paper estimated that, "Two-thirds of the population of Grand County came to Kremmling" for the fair. The marquee event of the Grand County Fair was the rodeo with the bucking championship of northwestern Colorado
Rodeos had already been part of the Colorado landscape for over 30 years. The town of Deer Trail, on the plains east of Denver, lays claim to holding the Territory of Colorado's first rodeo on July 4, 1869. It was natural for the ranching communities of rural Colorado to embrace the rodeo tradition, and Grand County was no exception.
In the early years of Grand County, rodeos were held in the streets of towns, since there were no arenas. Photos from circa 1900 show rodeo exhibitions, such as bronco busting, in the main streets of Grand Lake and Kremmling. In 1905, the Middle Park Times announced "Frontier Day! Will Be the Greatest Event in the History of Grand County," to coincide with arrival of the railroad into Hot Sulphur Springs. The article predicted that over 2,500 people from Denver would come to town on special excursion trains. The newspaper went on to announce, "Horse racing, broncho busting and various other amusements will mark the day's performance. Pin Ears, most noted broncho in Colorado, will be here. This fact alone would be a drawing card for hundreds of people."
Following the success of Grand County's Fair of 1912, nearby counties vowed to start their own fairs. A Republican senatorial candidate from Steamboat Springs declared, "Routt County is aroused to the need of such a celebration."
GCHA invites its members and the public to don their cowboy and cowgirl best to celebrate 100 years of rodeos in Grand County. The Annual Dinner at the Inn at SilverCreek in Granby is on Saturday, Nov. 10, from 6-9 p.m. Tickets for the Rodeo Round-Up program, special dinner, silent auction and cash bar are $40 for members and $50 for the public. Please RSVP at Cozens Ranch Museum in Fraser (970-726-5488) or the Pioneer Village Museum in Hot Sulphur Springs (970-725-3939). Information at firstname.lastname@example.org.