AUGUST 12, 2019 BY 

From the Talking Green column for the Steamboat Pilot & Today | August 11, 2019
by Anne Mudgett

I  consider myself an aspiring gardener. Aspiring because my inputs — time, money, water — don’t really match my outputs. I enjoy the summer ritual of gardening, but I’d really like to put a little more food on the table to justify my efforts and boost my sense of personal resilience. Other gardeners are somehow coaxing tomatoes to grow in our high mountain environment. What’s their secret?

To help you get the dirt on local food production — from veggies to livestock — Yampa Valley Sustainability Council and Community Agriculture Alliance are offering a guided tour of the Routt County Fair. Participants will get an inside look at the fair and learn from people of all ages who are raising food successfully and sustainably.

On the ride to the fairgrounds, staff from the Ag Alliance will share the history of agriculture in the Yampa Valley. At the fairgrounds, we’ll tour the livestock barns where 4-H and Future Farmers of America youth will talk about their experiences raising animals, such as cuddly lop rabbits, exotic-looking poultry, Wilbur-esque pigs, sheep, goats, cows and more.

“4-H has been teaching youth how to be the best they can be for generations, and this year’s participants are no different. Many kids persevered through a number of challenges, including the cool spring weather, to produce the best animals with the utmost quality,” said Todd Hagenbuch, Routt County Colorado State University Extension director.

Next stop on the tour is the Exhibition Hall, a kaleidoscope of color that showcases intricate quilts, baked goods, arts, crafts, flowers, fruit and vegetables that will make you green with gardener envy, such as newborn baby-sized zucchini and garlic that looks like it’s on steroids. Fair superintendents will lead the tour of the hall, providing tips and tricks for gardening in Routt County.

“With an average 59-day, frost-free, local growing season, raising produce outside can be a challenge to say the least. Seeing what is at the fair and learning about how it is grown is helpful for any gardener — whether you’re a newbie or an experienced grower,” said Michele Meyer, Ag Alliance executive director.

 If you go

What: Routt County Fair Tour
When: 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Aug. 15
Where: Meet at the Steamboat Springs Community Center to load vans
Tickets: $20, children 12 and under are free. Transportation is included. Purchase tickets at

The Routt County Fair is one of those events that will remind you of how vibrant and special our community is. Don’t miss this chance to explore a 105-year-old local tradition with the people who are organizing and competing in it. You just might be inspired to start your own garden or chicken coop.

Anne Mudgett is the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council communications and development director.