NORWOOD – “Fairs are traditionally a culmination of things that happen in the summer,” says San Miguel County Fairgrounds Manager Deanna Burbridge. It’s a time for friendly competition between friends who might say to one another, “My pickles are better,” or “Betcha I can ride that bull,” she says, estimating that the Norwood Fair got its start around 1902.
The San Miguel Basin Fair and Rodeo kicks off this Friday, July 20, with a Greased Pig Contest at the San Miguel County Fairgrounds Events Center in Norwood at 5:30 p.m. From there, a week-long list of events ranging from 4-H livestock shows to the open fair art show, dessert contest, motocross exhibition, horsemanship clinic, and carnival culminate in the Junior Rodeo, Junior Livestock Sale and Colorado Professional Rodeo Association Rodeo, July 27-29.
Despite the cancellation of a new demolition derby due to low participation, 2012 Fair Week has plenty to offer. Stemming from its success last year, the Greased Pig Contest is back as the opening event this Friday, featuring heats for several age groups. Open to the public, there will be $50 cash prizes this year, as opposed to the winners taking home the captured pig. No gloves, no cleats – but bare feet are fine, says Burbridge. There’s a $5 entry fee.
An event close to her heart is the Saturday, July 21 Mobile FMX Motocross Exhibition, renamed this year in memory of Norwood High School student Garrett Carothers, who died in an avalanche while snowmobiling last March. The event also stars Burbridge’s son, Nucla resident and professional motocross rider Chas Burbridge, 27, who is one of the featured riders in the upcoming film Nitro Circus 3D, which hits theaters Aug. 8.
“All I can do is just barely watch him,” as he and other riders fly as high as 35 feet through the air doing stunts from their motorcycles, says Burbridge, adding that her son mentored Carothers, who loved motocross and snowmobiling.
“There’s a whole special story that goes with Garrett,” she continues, tearing up. When he was 8 he was attacked by dogs and almost died. Carothers came away from that experience saying that had gone to Heaven and seen God. “He was an angel on earth,” says Burbridge. “He had no fear of dying. He was an adrenaline junkie… And now he’s forever young.”
Burbridge promises the Mobile FMX Motocross, which benefits the Wright Stuff Foundation, and a free Pit Party and Barbecue from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the fairgrounds grandstands. That event will be followed by a Norwood Southern Baptist Church-sponsored Strength Team Show at the events center, 4-5:30 p.m., where the audience can watch professional athletes breaking bricks with bare hands and bending steel bars. Motocross action then begins at the grandstands 6 p.m. (gates open at 5 p.m.), withbe concessions, airbrush tattoos and T-shirt sales, with a portion of proceeds going to the Garrett Carothers Memorial Scholarship Fund. (Advance tickets $10 adults/$8 children 8 and under, at Wright Stuff, Norwood Hardware or 5th Ave. Grill in Nucla; or $15/$10 at the door.) From 9 p.m. to midnight, is a Kick Stand Dance at the Pig Palace ($5, or free with FMX wrist band), featuring live music by Montrose’s Jason Hunter Band (formerly Fractalia).
On Sunday, July 22, Colton Walter returns for a horsemanship clinic at the events center titled “Salvation Through a Horse’s Eyes,” from 1-5 p.m. “He’ll bring a horse that has never been touched and within three or four hours, he’ll be riding it,” says Burbridge. “That’s exceptional!” There’ll be a free barbecue at that event, starting at 1 p.m.
Sunday evening is the ever-popular Scrumptious Dessert Contest, with public tasting and awards at the Norwood School All Purpose Room starting at 6:30 p.m. Check in your single- and double-crust pies, frosted and unfrosted cakes, cheesecakes, and ice cream between 3 and 5 p.m. There are youth, adult and professional divisions, and again this year there will be a silent auction of ceramic pie plates (complete with pies) created by Wright Stuff Explorer youth camp participants, as a benefit for Prime Time Early Learning Center.
Monday, July 23 marks the beginning of Fair Week, with Open Fair/Art Show entries taken from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.at the Norwood School All Purpose Room, where they will be exhibited Tuesday through Saturday. That evening, a Best Dressed Pet Show (4:30 p.m. outside Glockson Building) provides a venue for kids and adults to bring their pooches dressed as princesses or Dachshunds dressed as hot dogs. And throughout the week, 4H youth can be seen weighing in, grooming and showing their swine, lambs, goats and cows.
“4H is basically an educational program whereby youth learn how to become stockmen,” says Burbridge. “They raise an animal to its best potential” and then show it to judges, who “come from out of town and have no prior knowledge of the kids, so it’s impartial.” The youth then have the opportunity to sell their animals at Saturday’s Junior Livestock Sale at the event center (1 p.m.)
The carnival comes to town Wednesday, July 25, with gates opening Wednesday and Thursday at 5 p.m., Friday at noon and on Saturday at 11 a.m. Over 20 rides, including the Majestic Ferris Wheel, Hammer, Ripsaw, and Thea’s Zoo (plus caramel apples and cotton candy) are featured this year. All-day passes are $18 in advance or $25 at the gate, but 40 local youth (grades 1-8) are entitled to a free pass if they volunteer their time to help hand-pick rocks out of the fairgrounds track on Thursday, July 24. “We have an angel, an anonymous sponsor” who is behind the work day, says Burbridge – someone who believes “we live in a great place, we have a great school, and we have great kids.” Other carnival sponsors are San Miguel County, Citizen’s State Bank, Bruin Waste Management, the Town of Norwood, and Norwood Chamber of Commerce.
Burbridge particularly loves the carnival buzz on Monday morning, when all the local kids ride their bikes around in circles, watching with excitement as the carnival sets up next to the Pig Palace. She also enjoys seeing the kids with their animals, especially the “itty bitty ones on their horses… some wearing chaps that maybe belonged to their Uncle George in the 50s…
“Some of those old horses just really take care of the kids,” says Burbridge, recalling when her son Chas took part in a riding event as a child and the saddle slipped around to the horse’s belly, knocking him to the ground. The old mare “just stopped. She wouldn’t move” until she knew Chas was safe.
Rodeo fans can watch little tikes and older youth strut their stuff during the Junior Rodeo on Friday, July 27 starting at 9 a.m. (free). Mutton Busting events will open the CPRA Rodeo on both Friday and Saturday (limited to 10 kids under a certain weight per event per night; check-in 6:30 p.m.) During the Junior Rodeo, youth ages 6 to 18 will partake in events such as barrels, poles, goat tying, breakaway roping and even steer and bull riding.
The Norwood Roping Club-hosted CPRA Rodeo takes place Friday and Saturday nights, July 27-28, starting at 7 p.m. ($9 adults, $5 for 12 and under). This is where you’ll see professional rodeo athletes bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, bull riding, and steer wrestling. Many local faces may also be seen team roping, calf roping, and even taking part in a steer pulling, which is open to the public and offers a cash prize for the winner.
San Miguel Basin Fair and Rodeo events wrap up Sunday, July 29 with Jackpot Team Roping at 10 a.m. For a complete schedule, go online to sanmiguelcounty.org/fair or call 970/327-4231.