Boul­der County Fair won’t open doors to pub­lic, plans vir­tual events

The Denver Post - - DENVER & THE WEST - By Kelsey Ham­mon

Due to con­cerns about the spread of the coro­n­avirus, the 151st an­nual Boul­der County Fair will be not be open to the pub­lic, with some re­mote events sched­uled and oth­ers can­celed al­to­gether.

Fair or­ga­niz­ers said in a Face­book post last week that they were “un­able to host the fair in a safe en­vi­ron­ment for all of our fair­go­ers to en­joy.”

As a re­sult, there will be no car­ni­val, ven­dors or in-per­son en­ter­tain­ment. The an­nual Boul­der County Fair pa­rade, hosted by the Ki­wa­nis Club, has also been can­celed.

“The fair is a happy place and a so­cial place and it’s hard to keep peo­ple apart when you come to­gether for this much fun,” said Laura Boldt, the Boul­der County Fair ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor. She said she be­lieves this is the first time fair events have been can­celed since the spread of po­lio in the early 1900s.

In­stead of vis­i­tors num­ber­ing as many as 150,000 descend­ing on the Boul­der County Fair­grounds from July 31 to Aug. 9, those seek­ing a fair ex­pe­ri­ence will have to turn to the dig­i­tal world. En­ter­tain­ment ac­tiv­i­ties will be sched­uled, though there will not be in-per­son en­ter­tain­ment events. A pos­si­ble livestream­ed vir­tual con­cert is among the po­ten­tial ac­tiv­i­ties. Pho­tos and videos fea­tur­ing rides and food from pre­vi­ous fairs will be shared on the fair’s web­site and so­cial me­dia plat­forms to let peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence the fair from a safe dis­tance. Boldt en­cour­aged peo­ple to check back on the fair’s web­site for up­dates at boul­der­coun­ty­fair.org.

Youth will still get the chance to demon­strate their skills at 4-H and FFA youth live­stock events. Boldt said fair or­ga­niz­ers and part­ners are work­ing with Boul­der County Pub­lic Health to de­ter­mine which events could be safe enough to host at the fair­grounds. A vir­tual model will be used for other com­pe­ti­tions, with the kids sub­mit­ting pho­tos, videos or posters on­line to a panel of judges.

“We have com­mit­ted to hold, at a min­i­mum, an op­por­tu­nity for our 4-H mem­bers to com­plete their projects vir­tu­ally,” the Boul­der County 4-H pro­gram said in a state­ment about the changes to the fair. “The live­stock sale com­mit­tee has com­mit­ted to hold­ing a vir­tual sale to help sup­port the mem­bers and their an­i­mal projects. We will pro­vide more in­for­ma­tion about spe­cific 4-H events to the pub­lic as soon as they have been ap­proved by the county (an­tic­i­pated in early July).”

Those who planned on par­tic­i­pat­ing in this year’s fair ex­pressed sad­ness, but said they get why the can­cel­la­tion of many events was nec­es­sary to pro­tect the com­mu­nity’s health.

Am­ber Nusser, a 17-year-old Ni­wot High School stu­dent, had been look­ing for­ward to her reign as 2020 Boul­der County Fair Queen, and to demon­strat­ing her rid­ing skills with her horses Bill and Mi­ley.

“I, of course, was very dis­ap­pointed that we had to can­cel the fair, es­pe­cially be­cause this was my year as queen,” Nusser said. “How­ever, I to­tally un­der­stand and I’m glad we are keep­ing ev­ery­one safe.”

Nusser, a mem­ber of Boul­der County 4-H for the past eight years, spent time ev­ery week work­ing with her horses to pre­pare them for the 2020 fair. Dur­ing the school year, she works with them at least two days a week. In the sum­mer, she rides four to five days a week, spend­ing at least an hour a day work­ing with her horses. She will still get to demon­strate her skills in var­i­ous horse shows through the fair, in­clud­ing Western, English and show­man­ship cat­e­gories, but it will likely be through a vir­tual plat­form.

Nusser said she was grate­ful to the fair and its part­ners for giv­ing youth an op­por­tu­nity to show off their hard work, even if it’s from a dis­tance. Still, she lamented that it won’t be the same ex­pe­ri­ence.

“The fair is also about the friend­ship, cre­at­ing mem­o­ries and be­ing able to com­mu­ni­cate with oth­ers who share your pas­sion, so, in that sense, it will be dif­fer­ent,” Nusser said, “but I’m glad that we can have some sem­blance of a fair.”

Nusser said she looks for­ward to see­ing her fair friends again next year and vis­it­ing the dairy bar to get her fa­vorite treat: a cho­co­late mint, Oreo cookie milk­shake.

Jay­lyn Westen­broek, 17, said she was also look­ing for­ward to be­ing at the fair. Westen­broek was crowned lady in wait­ing, the ti­tle awarded to the per­son who has been se­lected as the fol­low­ing year’s queen.

Pho­tos by Cliff Grass­mick, Daily Cam­era

Am­ber Nusser, 2020 Boul­der County Fair Queen, will not have the same rou­tine as prior queens. The 17-year-old from Ni­wot had been hop­ing to show off her rid­ing skills with her horse, Mi­ley.

The Boul­der County Fair­grounds won’t be wel­com­ing 150,000 vis­i­tors this year be­cause of the coro­n­avirus out­break.

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