The Chaffee County Fair and Rodeo officially kicks off today at the fairgrounds, 10165 CR 120 in Poncha Springs, with the opening of the information booth at 8 a.m. and the exhibit hall at 9 a.m.
Months of work raising animals by 4-H members comes to fruition when the 4-H market livestock weigh-in takes place from 8 to 11 a.m.
Judging of the first groups of animals starts at 9:30 a.m. with the 4-H and open poultry categories.
At 2 p.m., 4-H and open rabbit entries will be judged.
Kids and adults will demonstrate their horseback-riding skills at 5 p.m. in the open equine gymkhana, followed by team sorting at 7:30 p.m., in which teams of riders sort cattle into two designated pens.
Thursday is seniors’ and kids’ day, starting at 8 a.m. with the 4-H swine show.
The littlest cowpokes, ages 3-8, will try their hand at bronc riding, barrel racing and more in the stick horse rodeo at 11 a.m. It’s free to participate, and prizes will be awarded.
From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. folks of all ages can enjoy carriage rides around the fairgrounds.
At 11:30 a.m., 4-H members will show off their animals at goat and sheep shows, followed by the open breeding livestock show and peewee show at 12:30 p.m.
The Replacement Heifer Pen of Three Show, in which local ranchers show their top 1- to 2-year-old female calves, takes place at 3 p.m.
4-H kids will demonstrate their STEM skills in a 4-H robotics contest at 3:30 p.m. in the fairgrounds meeting room.
Tradition continues with the Commissioners Rocky Mountain Oyster Fry at 4 p.m., when Chaffee County commissioners will cook and serve the famous Colorado delicacy.
Wrapping up Thursday will be the 4-H beef show at 5 p.m. and the open 4-D barrel race at 7:30 p.m.
Round-robin events kick off Friday morning at 9 a.m. for 4-H contestants and 11 a.m. for adult contestants.
The fairgrounds’ brand-new John Fuqua Grandstands will be dedicated at 3:45 p.m., followed by a performance by the Westernaires precision riding team at 4 p.m.
A 4-H awards ceremony will begin at 6:30 p.m., and at 7 p.m. 4-Hers will enjoy cash rewards for their efforts when community members and businesses bid top dollar for their champion animals at the Junior Market Livestock Sale.
Live country tunes from the Wes Nickson Band will wrap up the day, starting at 9 p.m.
Saturday is a busy day, with a stock dog demonstration by Jeannie Allen, another Westernaires performance and horseshoe pitching all starting at 9 a.m.
Several contests for kids follow. First up, kids, divided into age groups of 2-4, 5-6 and 7-8, have a chance to scramble for coins in a sawdust pile starting at 10 a.m. Entry fee is a canned good to be donated to a food bank, and kids keep all the money they find.
Children ages 4-5 will start the catch-a-pig contests at 10:30 a.m., followed by age categories 6-7 and 8-10. Those who manage to catch and hold onto a pig win Murdoch’s gift certificates.
At 11:30 a.m. is muttin’ bustin’, in which kids ages 5-7 try to hang onto sheep for four seconds without being bucked off. The top 10 go on to the finals Sunday, and everyone gets a belt buckle.
Older kids, ages 8-15, will test their riding skills on steers at noon.
For adults, at 11 a.m., tractors compete in the antique tractor pull, and an antique engine demonstration will take place at noon.
Following the demonstration will be disc golf at 1 p.m.
4-H members will compete to catch a sheep at 2 p.m. and catch a calf at 2:30 p.m. Winners get to keep their sheep or calf to raise and sell at next year’s fair.
A second round of muttin’ bustin’ begins at 5 p.m., followed by a second group of 10 steer riding contestants at 5:30 p.m.
The grand entry and the Colorado Professional Rodeo Association (CPRA) Rodeo starts at 6:30 p.m.
Once again the day ends with a performance by the Wes Nickson Band at 9 p.m.
Sunday is the last day of festivities, starting at 8 a.m. with the CPRA Rodeo Slack.
Cowboy church service starts at 8:30 a.m., followed by an antique tractor pull, archery contest and a melon eating contest at 10 a.m.
Another group of 60 kids from ages 4-10 will participate in the catch-a-pig contest starting at 11:30 a.m.
Another antique engine demonstration will be at noon.
The muttin’ bustin’ finals begin at noon, followed by the steer riding finals at 12:30 p.m.
Crowning of 2019 fair royalty will happen at 1 p.m., followed by the CPRA Rodeo and presentation of the Hollenbeck All-Around Belt Buckle to the top rodeo winner.
The release of 4-H and open class exhibits, starting at 3:30 p.m., signifies the end of the fair, and the exhibit hall closes for another year at 5 p.m.
For more information on the fair and rodeo, visit chaffeecountyfair.com.