Those who attended the 100th annual Park County Fair might have witnessed a miracle.
Perhaps that is slightly overstated, but Park County Manager Tom Eisenman and his staff put forth a Herculean effort to host a successful event despite facing a myriad of extraordinarily challenging circumstances.
“We knew it would be challenging to stay within the parameters of COVID-19-related requirements and restrictions, but we have a core of very capable people here who deserve a lot of credit for getting it done,” Eisenman said. “Because of their efforts, the fair went smoother than I ever anticipated.”
Among the COVID-19-related restrictions were limitations on the number of people allowed to assemble in one area. Outdoors, state health officials limited that number to 250 people. Indoors, no more than 175 people are allowed to assemble together.
On just the second day of the fair, which took place July 14-19, Colorado governor Jared Polis announced a new law making face coverings manditory in all public places. That requirement came as a result of a sudden increse in COVID-19 cases across the state.
Fair organizers, meanwhile, scrambled to adhere to COVID-19 restrictions before and during the six-day event while still managing to offer traditional activities and attractions that attendees have come to expect.
“Fair Administrator Jennifer Adams deserves a ton of credit, as do Barbie Garnett, Jacquelin Veldhuizen, the Cattleman’s Association, the Fair Board ... and I can’t leave out Chip Armstrong, Mike Kennard and the folks in facilities ... they worked grueling hours and were very responsive, as usual.”
The Board of County Commissioners also demonstrated a strong will to bring the fair to fruition, attending to details large and small and making last-minute adjustments related to health concerns and COVID-19 restrictions.
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of this year’s fair involved the execution of the Junior Livestock Auction. Only a limited number of people were allowed to attend in-person within the confines of the Fair Barn Show Arena.
Faced with the dilema of how to host buyers for the auction, event organizers arranged to have some buyers participate online. That, too, went off without a hitch.
“The kids who work so hard to prepare their animals for the auction is really what this is all about,” Eisenman said. “So a lot of time and energy went in to making the auction what it should be despite limitations on the number of people who could attend in-person.”
When asked if he was concerned at any point that the fair simply might not be a possibility this year, Eisenman chuckled.
“Well, even though there were some challenges, I’ve always said that Park County residents are at their best when things are at their worst.”
Anything less than ‘their best,’ and the 100th Park County Fair would have likely taken place in 2021.
Hats off to all parties involved.