Fun Fair History, Stories, & Poems
(1995: excerpted from Faster Horses, Younger Women, Older Whiskey)
Routt County Fair was the first to hold a wine competition. It was launched at the 1975 Fair, picked up by Moffat County four or five years later and introduced at the Colorado State Fair in 1981.
Doris Knott relished early competition with Don Lorenz and Bob Gleason. She claims she "runs a wine factory," making as much as 40 gallons a summer: clover, dandelion, beet, kiwi, persimmon and even pea pod. Dan, her husband of 57 years, says the long and the short of it is, "Grandma is a bootlegger."
John Marshall judged the first competition at the State Fair and Doris, who doesn't drink wine, brought home the Best of Show ribbon. At that time it was illegal to transport any kind of alcoholic beverage, so it was no surprise when state law enforcement officers call the Extension Office to find out how Doris' wine got from Hayden to the State Fair. Shirley Portouw said she didn't have the faintest idea, it must have walked, and hung up on them.
According to Doris, getting a ribbon from Marshall is a real honor because he doesn't like sweet wines and the only way she could win was on "clarity." She got a kick out of watching him use the Grand Champion bread to clear his palate and still smiles about the days when the Hayden ladies would polish off the uncorked bottles.
Wine tasting out at the ranch has been the cause of several cars ending up in the borrow pit but no fatalities. Once, when a local pack-rat began stealing cakes of kitchen soap, the Knotts baited a trap with berry mash. Doris says there's a lesson for everyone in the fact that the rat could not be caught until the night he got drunk on chokecherry pulp.
Racing at the Routt County Fair
I didn't know Si Dawson,
But I knew Coke Roberds well.
They built our famous race track
So I've heard people tell.
They always had good saddle broncs
Top riders rode them for the count.
The ropers tied big Hereford calves.
They each had a real good mount.
Sometimes there was a fight or two.
We always got our money's worth.
Barnum had the circus, but
We had the greatest show on earth.
The Corner Close to Heaven
There's a corner, close to Heaven,
Where the clouds and mountains meet,
Where there's trout in every stream
And the fields are full of wheat;
Where there's cattle on the hillsides
And there's coal beneath the plain,
And the hot springs rest the weary
And relieve the suff'rer's pain.
Here the home folks fit the picture-
Once you meet 'em they're your friends;
Here life's really worth the living,
So you feel when each day ends;
Here are trails where trouble ceases,
Here's a new land, full of zest,
In our corner, close to Heaven,
Where the streams flow to the West.
Come to the Fair and you will surely realize then that
Life is worth living.
-Arthur Chapman (written for the Routt County Fair Association in 1926)