As the Colorado State Fair settles into Pueblo from August 26 to September 5, savvy Denverites might ask: "Who goes to the fair, anyway, besides farmers and grandparents?"
Well, put down your Cosmos and snap on some overalls, because the answer is... you. Organizers say that the 133rd edition, while shorter than last year's, is crammed with more attractions than ever. "Someone who has never experienced the state fair is just going to have information overload," says Linh Truong, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Agriculture. "Even if you've been here every single year for the last ten years, there are so many new attractions this year that will still be able to keep your interest."
For urbanites who need convincing, here's a handy checklist:
The Colorado State Fair
10 a.m.-midnight daily, August 26- September 5, Colorado State Fairgrounds, 1001 Beulah Avenue, Pueblo, $5-$7, kids six and under admitted free, 1-800-876-4567, www.coloradostatefair.com
Music. Hoobastank will perform on opening night, followed by a living-jukebox parade that includes Kenny Rogers, Collective Soul, Paul Rodriguez, Diamond Rio, 38 Special, Eddie Money, Loverboy, Montgomery Gentry, Uncle Kracker, the Four Tops and the Temptations. For the finale, Alice Cooper and Cheap Trick will shake off the rust to rock the joint. In addition, free stages will feature dancers, jazz, country, blues and rock and roll throughout the fair's run. "We usually have all these acts spread over sixteen days, and now we're consolidating to eleven, so all the stages are packed," Truong says.
Libations. If you love Colorado-brewed beer, you'll want to dive into Foam Fest 2005 on Saturday, August 27. The chugapalooza boasts four hours of sampling the finest drafts in this hoppy state. And everyone's inner bootlegger will be itchin' to know who won the home-brew and hobby-wine competitions. Those with a different thirst can stop by the Livestock Pavilion on Friday, September 2, to taste Bronco Orange Milk, nuanced with an orange-cream flavor, and meet team mascot Miles.
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Rodeo. Attendees can gawk at the Dodge Professional Rodeo Cowboys' Association (PRCA) Rodeo. Along with the usual grit -- barrel racing, trick riding, nut-crushing bronco and bull antics -- there are some new events this year, such as the calf-dressing event. Each night of rodeo ends with a rockin' band and fireworks.
Mutton bustin'. Everyone should have the chance, at least once in a lifetime, to watch a rootin', tootin' tot -- six years or younger, sixty pounds or lighter -- attempt to stick like a burr on the back of a sheep until a six-second buzzer sounds. The sheep imitate the lunges, kicks and twirls of their larger kindred, the bulls and broncos of the rodeo circuit. Daily qualifying rounds will lead up to the fair's final night, when a newly crowned world champion will receive accolades, glory and a $1,000 savings bond.
Contests. Some pet rocks might have self-esteem problems, which must be why this year's fair is hosting a Pet Rock Olympics. Rocks weighing between two ounces and five pounds are eligible to enter the Best-Dressed or Distance Roller competition. Also on the CSF agenda are an assortment of cooking contests, a Kid Chef of the Year contest and a Road Equipment Road'eo to determine, once and for all, the best road-grader in the state.
Finally, consider the lure of the demolition derby, the tractor pull, the 100-foot Ferris wheel and hundreds of other rides, including the 60 mph, 130-foot-tall Super Bungee attraction. Go ahead: Leave your laptop behind, shimmy into that old pair of Wranglers, pull on those dusty cowboy boots, slap on a ten-gallon hat and prepare to spend yourself a day -- or eleven -- at this year's wingding. Because while Alice may still sing about school being out, the state fair is definitely in.