As the longest-running county fair in the state, Boulder County’s has seen a thing or two. Horse races, gold and silver from local mines, gambling and pumpkin pie dominated the early fairs; today it boasts tractor pulls, demolition derbies, jousting by the Knights of Valor and goat yoga.
This year marks the 150th year for the Boulder County Fair. From its inaugural year in 1869, the early fairs were held on the original fairgrounds that were located between 28th and 30th streets in Boulder. Then 30 years later, it moved to Longmont in 1899 after years of lobbying from the upstart neighboring town.
Before the Colorado territories became a state, the fair was established to show off agriculture and opportunities in the new West. Displays of items from farming, home goods, minerals, Colorado-manufactured products and crops were on display for four days in October each year. There was always a flower and vegetable display, too, something that gets gardeners excited for the annual fair.
Gardeners can let their competitive side show by entering a few crops into a competition at the fair. Is your favorite flower blue-ribbon material, or is your tomato the top of the crop? With the abundance of rainfall that Colorado has been showered with, vegetable gardens should be looking blue-ribbon worthy this time of the season. As a green-thumb homage to the fair’s sesquicentennial, see if you can take home bragging rights for your garden creations.
Held at the fairgrounds in Longmont, this friendly contest brings neighbors and friends together for days of garden and farm goodies, plus the delicious items they’ve created. Entering your beauty into the fair is an easy process, but you don’t have much time: all entries need to be registered online by July 22 at bouldercountyfair.org.
Exhibitors can enter the number of items they’ll be entering and a general class entry for each item. Note that pertinent information to enter is the total number of entries submitted — not necessarily the exact item type. For instance, if you register a pumpkin but end up bringing a perfect zucchini, don’t worry, staff can change the entry tag. However, they can not add items that aren’t registered, so be sure to enter more than enough to cover your slate of crops.
Then check out the Vegetables, Herbs, Fruit, Misc., Baskets and Flowers shows at the fair and stick around to watch the judging on Aug. 3. The judge will explain what criteria is judged for the crops, and will also offer hints on how to grow and show vegetables.
Interested exhibitors can download the premium book at bouldercountyfair.org/p/exhibitors/open-creative-living. Click on the Crops, Garden, Flowers link where you’ll find rules and guidelines for entering the competition. Check the fair premium book rules for entry requirements, because sometimes more than one example per entry is necessary.
Then, go stroll your garden to see which vegetables or flowers are are competition worthy.