Many might be surprised to know that the origins of the Pueblo County Fair actually began right outside of the Beulah Valley in the area 5 miles east of Beulah, in a place known as Goodpasture. From 1917- 1926 the Roper Ranch was the location for the yearly fair, where 206 classes in 14 different departments existed. According to the 1923 fair program the fair was widely supported by Beulah and Pueblo merchants.
In the ‘family article’, entitled “The Pueblo County Fair”, written in 2011 by Roy Roper, he describes the location of the fair’s exhibits. ‘Pantry and crops exhibits were displayed in the Roper Community Hall building across the road from Wilbur Roper’s General Merchandise store and next door to the Roper Brother’s Blacksmith and Ford Auto Repair Shop, and also at the Methodist Church building. Field events were held at the corrals and 1/2-mile race track a short distance east of the ranch buildings where open air bleachers seating had been erected to accommodate the crowds.’
In a recent interview, Mr. Roper who was also a soil conservationist, explains the enthusiasm that surrounded the first Pueblo County Fair, and the excitement that people had for the great potential found in dryland farming. “The land was new, it had just been plowed out, and the topsoil was still good.” In addition, Roper notes that they had several good years for moisture, even building silos for the expected bounty. “But they eventually figured it was too hard to make a living on only 160 acres”, motivating several community members to pool their resources, and pursue a seed factory, dairy farming and the cheese factory.
Roper references a detailed 1917 article written for the Western Farm Life magazine, where the author describes the wide diversity found in the Beulah/Goodpasture area, “Exhibits Grown at 6,000 - 9,00 feet Elevation - Goodpasture Fair Shows What Can be Done at High Altitudes.” In this gem of an article, the author ponders high altitude farming, “a study of climate and its influence on plant growth, namely, that as we gain altitude plants seem less susceptible to frost and cold, and make quicker growth during the hours of sunlight.” He determines that the impressive variety, size and form of vegetables found in Goodpasture are ‘proof of this dissertation’.
He divulges that “Mrs. O.S. Mackelfresh, who showed fifty-two kinds of jellies and preserves, being only five behind the famous fifty-seven varieties of our friend Pickle Heinz.” And marvels at the Murray Brothers exhibit, “Sudan grass, which is not recommended for altitudes above 5,000 feet, grew ten feet tall at 6,000 feet.”
Beulah resident and multi-family historian, Ilona Simonson Wahl recalled the story of Lee Roper planting 300 apple trees at the Goodpasture site, utilizing dynamite to bust the clay on each post hole! The article from 1917 specifically mentions the Roper orchards, “This orchard has never been irrigated and fruit from it was awarded first premium at the International Dry Farming Congress in 1911.”
It’s no wonder the Pueblo County Fair continues to be such a big draw year after year, the same pioneer spirit exists! Youth learn valuable and practical life skills through experiential learning, culminating in a grand gathering. “Everyone looked forward to the fair,” says Wahl, “because everyone got to be together.”
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by Roy Roper, a former Goodpasture "native son". August 2011
(Editing by Linda Rope, photos not included in this online version)
Come! Let's go to the Fair! The Pueblo County Fair this year (1923) will be held at Goodpasture, Sept. 21st & 22nd! The admission cost is only .25 cents.
How strange was this? The County Fair being held at a little rural community scarcely anyone had aever heard of before? And yet this was what happened during the years 1917 - 1926.
This was probably more of a community fair than a county fair since most of the exhibits and those person connected with the fair were from nearby farms and ranches. int eh Goodpasture and Beulah communities. The Fair Grounds were at the (Lee) Roper Ranch close by the highway from Pueblo to Beulah, 22 miles southwest of Pueblo.
Fairgoers were surprised to see the large number of departments, exhibits and exhibitors, especially since most were form the local community. There is no record available of the number of entries made by exhibitors, nor is there any record of how many exhibitors were form outside the Goodpasture-Beulah area.
However, those persons interested in bringing an entry to the Fair had plenty of opportunity as there were 206 classes in the 14 departments - everything form horses and mules for the men to pantry stores and lac work for the ladies. There was even a class for mangels and sugar beets so perhaps some irrigated corps were indeed a part of the entries.
Superintendents of the various departments were again all local farm and ranch folk who had a special interest in the kinds of entries for their department. Pantry and corps exhibits were displayed in the Roper Community Hall building across the road from Wilbur Roper's General Merchandise store and next door to the Roper Brother's Blacksmith and Ford Auto Repair Shop, and also at the Methodist Church building. Field events were held at the corrals and 1/3 mile race track a short distance east of the ranch buildings were open air bleachers seating had been erected to accommodate the crowds.
A write for the Western Farm Life magazine covered the events during the 1917 Fair. He was amazed to see the variety and quality of crops and livestock exhibits since almost all were form dryland production at altitudes of 6,000- 7,000 feet. (A copy of his story form the Oct. 1917 Western Farm Life is attached).
My father (William Roper) explanation for the unusual variety and quality of the agricultural products was that the local farmland was then mostly "new", some having been plowed out of native sod only a few years earlier. Also, that there were a series of good moisture years, except for 1919, during that period.
Prize money for the winning entries ranged from as much as $10 & $5 for the best horses, mules and teams, $5 & $2 for top prize cattle and hogs, $2 & $1 for poultry entries and down to $.75 & .50 cents for grains, vegetables and grasses. Fancy work and pantry stores were awarded .75 & .50 cents and ribbons as prizes. However, the many donated prizes helped to even out the lack of prize money.
Although the Fairs were held outside the Pueblo area, Pueblo and Beulah merchants were generous in their support of the Fair both with special donated prizes for class winners and with advertising in the Fair Program brochure to help with the cost of prizes, printing and other expenses. The year 1923 must have been a high point of the Fair - or for the person selling advertising, because 78 Pueblo merchants placed their ads in the Fair program.
As could be expected the afternoon field events at the racetrack area attracted the most attention. Field events included foot races for all ages, milking contests, pony races, steer roping, bronco busting, and team (horse)relay races. These latter two drew a lot of interest and were awarded "top" prize money of $20 each. ON the second day, activity started at 1pm with a stock parade of all premium livestock entries. Another afternoon event included a one mile Slow Motorcycle Race in 1921. At least four entries were required and entrants were warned that touching a foot to the ground disqualified the rider. The prizes for this were $5 & $2.50.
In 1924, the fair admission cost was increased to .35 cents and prize money was increased also. This probably perked up the interest of participants.
On Sept. 19, 1924 a Pueblo Chieftain news article had this to say: " A good deal of Pueblo proper will be present at the county fair today, the Central High School band playing throughout the afternoon program and quite a number of Pueblo citizens expected to be present at the exhibition booths and in the grandstands. A big dance tonight at the Goodpasture Hall will wind up this, the last day of the Pueblo County Fair - the most successful fair that the region has ever had".
In 1926 music was provided by the Centennial High School band.
The Fair years were also during the "hey-day" of the popular Model T Ford autos. This was evidenced by several Ford related activities such as the 50 yard foot race for Ford owners over 45 years of age, the prize one Gates tire. The Ford Auto Co. donated a 30 X 3 1/2 tire as an extra premium prize and the afternoon finale was a Bucking Ford Exhibition. (At the then-active Roper Brothers Blacksmithing and Ford Auto Repair shop in "downtown" Goodpasture, my father, William, was the Model T mechanic.)
Management and operation of the fair was by the Pueblo County Fair Association led by a 9-11 member Board of Directors. All were from the Goodpasture/Beulah area. John Simonson was president of the Fair Association in 1921 and George Asher was president in 1923-24.
During the early years, 1917-1922, of the Fair at Goodpasture, there apparently was no agreement for use of the grounds. Not until 1923 was a lease agreement made and signed for legal use of the grounds and hall building. The lease rental remuneration was $1 per year. The agreement extended until 1936, but of course all fair activity at Goodpasture had cased by 1926.
As a child, age 5-6, in 1930-31, I remember seeing the wood bleachers 'Grandstand" at the fairgrounds east of Uncle Lee's large barn. It was even then being dismantled.
All that now remains at the Pueblo County Fair site at Goodpasture is a historical marker and the large red barn at the former Lee Roper ranch, where no doubt, many of the County Fair livestock were housed during the two day fairs.
Credits: Ruth(Roper) Eden, (granddaughter of Lee R. Roper) Memorabilia & photos.
Ken and Ilona Wahl, (Granddaughter of John Simonson and George Asher) Memorabilia and photos.
The Beulah Historical Society - Historical information.
Western Farm Life Magazine.
(Not included in this online article) Photos: Mrs. Ed Donley; Roper General Store; Fred Easley Cattle; Goodpasture Hall; Charles Donley team; Frank Kehoe mules; award ribbons; list of winners; premium LIst of the Pueblo County Fair Association.
The following article was recopied from the Western Farm Life Magazine, dated 10-15-1917
Author's initials are A.I. S, otherwise unknown, and article photos too indistinct for reproducing.
Exhibits Grown at 6,000 to 9,000 Feet Elevation Goodpasture Fair Shows What Can Be Done at High Altitudes
May the fourth, nineteen hundred and seventeen, found the writer attending a meeting of mountain dairy farmers at Rye, Pueblo County, Colorado. The following day there was to be a similar meeting at Goodpasture, a similarly situated foothills village, but that meeting was not held, because of a heavy snow. Other storms followed, May being a chilly, wet month. As late as the first week in June there was snow in the foothills. On the 25th day of September, 140 days after the big storm that stopped the Goodpasture meeting, and about 110 days after the last trace of winter, I was back at Goodpasture to attend a fair. My recollection of the disagreeably cold, wet spring led me to expect a poor showing of farm crops. What I saw as astonishingly different. It was a revelation; sure proof of a fact often overlooked when we think of or write about so-called high altitude farming - that is farming at 6,000 fee above sea level, or over. This fact is one that is recognized by those who make a study of climate and its influence on plant growth, namely, that as we gain altitude plants seem less susceptible to frost and cold and make quicker growth during the hours of sunlight than in a denser atmosphere nearer sea level. Then, too, the human body is less sensitive to cold at high levels. While neither man, plant nor animal feels changes of temperature as intensely as they do at lower elevations, the effect is apparent just the same; in man it is shown in exuberance of spirit and buoyancy; in plants in quick growth, high color and great vitality. History shows that among the world's most progressive nations have been those situated in climates of light humidity - some at high altitudes, others in desert countries. In such situations man's necessity for overcoming nature's obstacles to food production found the salubrious climate its most potent ally.
In proof of this dissertation I want to show you the Goodpasture fair, which even the people who arranged it did not find as significant as an outsider, because they have know for years what they can do in a short but glorious summer.
The agricultural exhibits were placed in the schoolhouse; (Correction, Roper Hall Building), the women's exhibits in the church; the livestock exhibits in the corral on the Roper ranch, and there was a home talent racing program on the half-mile track built for the occasion.
Space will permit only detailed mention of the exhibits in the schoolhouse. Nothing was shown that grew below 6,000 feet and there was one exhibitor whose products were grown at 9,000 feet above sea level - a mile and three fourths up!
We wil begin at the top, with Allan Mingus' exhibit. He is a mountain homesteader. About fifty acres of his farm is cultivable. He grows oats, barley, timothy hay, and garden produce. His best cash crop this year was head lettuce; heads almost as solid as a cabbage. His lettuce bed was visited by deer this summer and these epicures of the forest nibbled the hearts out of a few lettuce heads. Fifteen to twenty head of cattle are supported by the ranch and butter is a good source of income.
There was a frost on August 20 this year, but what at a low altitude would have ruined garden and field crops did not damage in the light atmosphere at 9,000 feet. Mr Mingus' exhibit includes some fine Early Ohio potatoes, turnips, rutabagas, black radishes and head lettuce.
Lewis Brothers, located on North Creek, five miles from Beulah, at 7,000 feet showed four varieties of potatoes, six varieties of apples beside crabapples, cauliflower that was literally perfect - the prettiest and most compact and even heads the writer ever saw at any fair; squash peppers, tomatoes - ripened at 7,000 feet; cabbage, melons, beans, onions, peas and good quality wheat and oats. The grains are grown without irrigation, but water is available for the garden when needed.
In the fruit exhibit I saw some ripe peaches which I thought came from the lower country. "Are these peaches from Pueblo?" I asked. The answer was; "No, come outside and we'll show you the ranch where they were grown. It was the Fred Lytle ranch (6,700 feet), about two miles from Goodpasture and plainly visible up on the mountainside. The peaches were entered by Mrs. Lytle. Thee are five peach trees in the family orchard, and a good assortment of apples and plums.
Just across the road from the schoolhouse (Hall building) I saw and photographed the Roper orchard, comprising two acres of apples, plums and cherries. The apple trees are especially thrifty. This orchard has never been irrigated and fruit from it was awarded first premium at the International Dry Farming Congress in 1911, in competition with dry farmed fruit from the entire plains region of the North American continent. It won on quality and appearance.
Returning to the exhibits. C.N. Sellers of Beulah (6,000 feet)showed ripe Everbearing raspberries and strawberries. His strawberries began bearing in August and will continue to yield fruit until the first hard freeze.
Sudan grass, which is not recommended for altitudes above 5,000 feet, grew ten feet tall at 6,000 feet, in spite of all the Murray Brothers could do to keep it down. R.P. Murray is a six footer and I took him outside with his exhibit to photograph him. The heavy seed heads drooped, but the picture will give some idea of the height of the grass, which was grown without irrigation. There was some milo and some teterita and plenty of amber cane on exhibition, all grown at 6,000 feet or over.
Oklahoma dwarf broom corn grown by A. Whitlock of Beulah at 6,340 feet was another unusual exhibit. Mr. Whitlock also showed some garden truck and yellow dent corn.
There were many exhibits of corn, mostly of the high altitude flint varieties, of short stalk and long ear, and several dent corns well ripened, or just in about condition for silage. Turkey red wheat was also much in evidence, good crops being grown on the long sloping hillsides or level mesas. There is less complaint of winter-killing than on the plains, as there is usually a better snow covering and the winds, while occasionally high, are less frequent.
Remarkable for variety from one farm was the exhibit of F.J. Morgan and Sons, five miles east of Goodpasture at about 6,000 feet. This included melons, cabbage, tomatoes, two varieties of potatoes, turnips, cucumbers, giant sunflower, cow peas, lima wax, navy and pinto beans, cantaloupe, beets, carrots, pumpkins, celery, squash, parsnips, three varieties of corn, oats, wheat, rye and several varieties of flower.
The Morgans got a good yield on eight acres of pinto beans. Their winter wheat made a light yield, fifteen bushels per acre but showed a sixty-one pound test at the mill. They cut fifty tons of silage from twelve acres of corn - the short stalk, high altitude corn, grown without irrigation, as were all their other crops, including the garden. They planted potatoes in straw, putting the straw in the bottom of the furrow, and got a good yield, growing enough for family use.
Another remarkable exhibit was that of Mrs. O.S. Mackelfresh, who showed fifty-two kinds of jellies and preserves, being only five behind the famous fifty-seven varieties of our friend Pickle Heinz. There was a real antique in this collection - a jar of currant jelly put up in 1900 - seventeen years go - and still, to all appearances, in perfect condition. She also had a wild grape jelly, put up in 1907, and some put up in 1911, but it was mostly of this year's preserving, including a bottle chokecherry wine and one of dandelion wine. There were many other creditable exhibits, those selected for mention being representative of the fair and not necessarily the best.
In the livestock section the exhibits included beef and dairy cattle, some good Herefords, a few Holsteins, and Ayrshires, and a nice showing of draft horses and mules. The mule colt class was especially strong in quality and numbers, indicating high-class jacks in the neighborhood.
The fair was in charge of a committee of the Goodpasture Farmers' Club, the officers of which are Walter Johnson, president; Guy Lambuth, vice-president, and Emerson Lambuth, Secretary. Frank Kehoe was chairman of the fair committee and he had a corps of able assistants.
Stanley V. Smith, county agriculturist, was there to help where ever he was needed. He helped form the Farmers' Club that made the fair a possibility and its unqualified success was due to a spirit of cooperation and unselfish community pride such as may be developed in any good farming community that has at it call the services of a trained agriculturist.
The agricultural exhibits were judged by A.R. Pierce, a Pueblo seedsman, who has for over thirty years been a factor in the agricultural development of the Arkansas valley and who judges agricultural exhibits because he likes to do it and knows hot to do it fairly.
The Beulah Mountain Wranglers 4-H Club took home top awards from the 2018 Pueblo County Fair, held July 17-21 in Pueblo. Represented by 22 members (including four ‘Cloverbuds’, aspiring members, under age 6), the youths claimed 19 division awards with various grand champions and reserve grand champions; 35 class awards with champions and reserve champions. Multiple projects qualified for the Colorado State Fair. A hearty congratulations to all members on a tremendous effort!
See Livestock, Clothing, Food & Nutrition, Leathercrafts,
Cake Decorating and Shooting Sports, below!
346 Joshua George 1st Place
347 Joshua George 2nd Place
349 Hailey George 5th Place
846 Zebadiah Laca 1st Place
100 Zebadiah Laca 3rd Place
101 Lacie Laca 2nd Place
102 Lacie Laca 1st Place
103 Zebadiah Laca 4th Place
115 Steven Lenzotti 4th Place
119 Hailey George 2nd Place
868 Rudy Valenzuela 4th Place
869 Rudy Valenzuela 6th Place
865 Samuel Valenzuela 6th Place
833 Joshua George 6th Place
834 Samuel Valenzuela 7th Place
832 Garret George 7th Place
870 Lacie Laca 8th Place
810 Garret George 8th Place
671 Tristin Grant 5th Place
672 Tristin Grant 6th Place
Hailey George; Reserve Champion Intermediate age Sheep Showman
Lacie Laca; Reserve Champion Intermediate age Beef Showman
Joshua George; Reserve Champion Junior age Sheep Showman
CLOTHING, FOODS & NUTRITION
(From The Pueblo Chieftain)
Hannah Maria Kidder was of Vermont parentage and born at the head of Moosehead Lake, Maine, January 30, 1842. In 1860 the family immigrated to Wisconsin, and there she was married to W.I Evarts. In 1876 she came to Beulah with her husband, who died in 1897.
Many people remember with affection, the kindly nurse who always brought comfort and cheer wherever she went. She was well known and much sought in her profession, when good nurses were rare in Pueblo. She always gave whole-souled of her best and those who knew her, admired and loved her and her grand womanhood, as well as for her cheery and comforting ways. With all her fine qualities of mind and heart she was a great lover of books, music and nature, herself one of nature's rarest products. Flowers were her passion and pleasure and the fruits and grains raised on her ranch in Goodpasture won many prices from county and state fairs. She was a pioneer in "Dry Farming," and was signally honored at the World's fair in St. Louis by the award of a gold medal for the best oats in America.
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Pueblo County Fairs were held at Goodpasture, Colorado, five miles east of Beulah, from 1919-1924 (corrected 1917-1926). However the legal indenture between Lee R. Roper and the Pueblo County Fair Association, was not put into effect until 1923. This event ran for five consecutive days of each September until the lease terminated at the end of five years. The Roper Hall was utilized for the Fair demonstrations of hand work, baking, grains, vegetables, fruits,and ETC. The fair program was well attended by both the local residents and the Pueblo people. Some of the group also participated as well. The general Store and Blacksmith shop were the two gathering places of the community. The store offered the menu of fried chicken, smoked meats, and homemade ice cream and pie. The ice cream parlor was incorporated with the store (East side of building). At the end of the five day activity, the last event was the big dance in the hall. Due to the rapid changes in the economy and the mode of travel by the automobile, small communities changed and Goodpasture was one of them. The post office and store close din 1925, the 'Roper Brothers" Blacksmith Shop remained the focal spot until 1938.
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