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Sam (age 8) Robert (age 9) and sister Lily Inge (age six-and-a-half) of Salida, having fun at the Chaffee County Fair in 2019. Mom Jill Inge says the kids look forward to the fair all year, and she always takes the family’s “calendar picture” at the fair. Photo by Jan Wondra

Pull on your cowboy boots, dust off your dungarees, and fasten that fancy belt buckle — it’s time for the Chaffee County Fair and Rodeo — 2023 style.

Whether you’re six, or sixty, or beyond — there is country fun and festivities all across the fairgrounds. For farmers and ranchers, and certainly for 4-Hers — this is the event of the year. The fair and rodeo is the culmination of hard work, and the chance to get off the ranch or farm and see others who work as hard every day as you do.

The combination of livestock, music, and competition brings together not just those who make a living from the land, but town folk who might want to know what the excitement is all about. For those who might be unfamiliar with the layout of the fairgrounds – below is the layout of the fairgrounds, and this is the map link.

The Chaffee Fair and Rodeo is also an official competition and feeder event for the Cowboys Professional Rodeo Association  (CPRA) circuit. where cowboys (and cowgirls) from across the country travel the circuit to compete for prize money.

Festivities officially kick off at 3:00 p.m. Friday, July 21.

Here’s the schedule for opening day:

3:00 p.m. Gates Open

5:00 p.m. Muttin’ Bustin — this bronc riding-in-training event features kiddos in helmets on sheep

5:45 p.m. Steer Riding — cowboys pit their ‘hold-on” abilities against steers who’d just as soon not have anyone on their backs

7:00 p.m. CPRA Rodeo and Mini Broncs, Antique Tractor Parade

9:00 p.m. Performance by the Westbrook Band

The Fair Schedule continues to ramp up on Saturday, July 22 with the crowning of the 2023 Chaffee County Fair & Rodeo Queen Toby Lawson. Lawson is attending the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs for nursing. She loves helping people and hopes to become a psychiatric nurse. Faith Coleman will be crowned the 2023 Fair Princess.

Also on the agenda, the presentation of the Dan Hollenbeck Belt Buckle, for best all-around rodeo performance at the Chaffee County Fair and Rodeo across several events. The award began around 2001 (or so, people’s memories are a bit foggy) and it is presented by the Hollenbeck family.

The Saturday, July 22 Schedule starts off with judging an antique tractor pull exhibition and then the public fun begins when the gates open at 3:00 p.m. for a full schedule.

Saturday, July 22 Schedule:

8:00 a.m. 4-H Indoor Judging (closed to the public)

9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Receive open class.

10:00 a.m. Antique Tractor Pull

3:00 p.m. Gates Open

5:00 p.m. More Muttin’ Bustin’ fun with activities centered at the grandstand and main arena.

7:00 p.m. The CPRA Rodeo and Mini Broncs, and an Antique Tractor Parade, followed by the crowning of County Fair and Rodeo Royalty, and the presentation of the Hollenbeck All-Around Belt Buckle.

9:00 p.m. Performance by the Westrock Band

Chaffee County Fair and Rodeo events continue on the week of July 23, with the full schedule available here:

Editor’s Note regarding the feature photo: if the Inge family would contact Ark Valley Voice, we’d love to take a photo update of Sam, Robert and Lily at the fair (