Past and present Chaffee County Commisioners joined forces for the 2019 Commissioners Rocky Mountain Oyster Fry at the Chaffee County Fair. From left to right: Commissioners Keith Baker and Rusty Granzella, former Commissioners Frank Holman, Dennis Giese and Dave Potts.

Chaffee County Commissioners, both current and past, were in evidence at the Chaffee County Fair on Thursday, Aug. 1. They hosted their own event known as the Commissioners’ Rocky Mountain Oyster Fry.

While commissioners do tend to roam the exhibit areas, rodeo and 4-H events throughout the county fair, Thursday’s commissioner event at their own tent on the north side of the arena gave county residents opportunity to meet and talk with them.

Once the grills were fired up, commissioners took turns minding the fires, with former Chaffee Commissioner Dennis Giese the first to strap on a grilling apron and grab some tongs. While the official price was “3 Rocky Mountain oysters for $10,” commissioners were generous and most attendees got five or six oysters (if they could eat that much). The money raised went to the fair board.

“This is a fairly recent tradition but its something that is very, very Colorado,” said Commissioner Keith Baker. “It’s fitting that we held it on Colorado Day – it’s something that I hope continues. This event started around 2009 or so, right around the time Dennis [Giese] and Frank [Holman] got on the board. Then Dave [Potts] was elected in 2011. Now it’s a joint effort, it brings those of us who have led the county together, and there are no politics involved.”

For casual observers of the Chaffee County Fair, some myths need to be debunked. Such as:

  • Rocky Mountain oysters are not seafood. For an exact definition, consult Webster’s Dictionary.
  • Unlike county fairs in other parts of the state of Colorado and indeed throughout the nation, there is no charge to attend the Chaffee County Fair. The Chaffee County Fair is free entertainment for all.
  • Message to “townees”– the Chaffee County Fair is for everybody, not just for ranching and farming families and those who live in the country.
  • Attendance does not require a pair of cowboy boots.
  • The most exciting things happening are not necessarily inside. Visitors who wander over to the open-air livestock barns are sure to find watching, and in some cases petting, the animals fascinating. If you’re lucky, you can find a proud 4-H’er who would be thrilled to tell you about the adventure of raising and showing their animal as a club project and the kind of personal development it has meant for them.
  • You don’t have to bring your own food. The County Fairgrounds has an abundance of food trucks.
  • Those who see the Chaffee County Fair as something with a long tradition in the valley are wrong. The Chaffee County Fair is not that old; 2019 is its 32nd year of operation. So it needs the support of the entire county to continue to grow.

The county fair, which officially runs from July 25 through Aug. 4 has a full schedule of events coming this weekend, Aug. 3 and 4. Word has it that county fairgrounds staff has secured a mechanical bull for Saturday, so those hoping to test their riding skills past “dude” level are invited to turn out.

For the full schedule, refer to this recent AVV article covering 2019 fair activities:

It’s time for the Chaffee County Fair