Summer 2011: All's fair in Colorado this summer

County Lines

While the Denver County Fair will have many things not offered at normal county fairs, it will also lack certain features common to the classic county fair experience. Like the pervasive smell of horse feces or a demolition derby. For those, you'll have to head out to more rural locales — but since Colorado is home to about fifty county fairs altogether, a little prioritization is in order. After all, as Dana Cain notes, "some county fairs are lame."

But that's not always the case, and if you're in the mood for a little down-home Americana this summer, a good county fair can hit the spot just as well as a corn dog wrapped in bacon and fried pickle slices that's been stuffed inside a turkey leg. Here are five of the best fairs (besides the Denver County Fair, of course) that Colorado has to offer:

Arapahoe County Fair


July 20-24


Since Arapahoe County's first county seat was Denver, this is the fair that might once upon a time have been the Denver fair — and even though it's not ours, it's still awesome. Plus, 2011 happens to be its 150th year of existence, meaning it's a special occasion. Even in a normal year, though, the ACF has everything a good fair should: carnival rides, dogs that do amazing tricks, fireworks, country bands and a demolition derby, which is evidently a staple of county fairs. That's along with the usual 4H animals and no shortage whatsoever of foods on sticks. It's guaranteed to be a hootin' and hollerin' good time.

Elbert County Fair


July 30-August 7

Picking up right where the Denver County Fair leaves off, date-wise, the Elbert County Fair features a plethora of contests that have -ing verbs with no 'g' in their titles — like Fiddlin' and Pickin' and Mutton Bustin' (where kids ride sheep like it was a rodeo) — so you know they're authentic. And the whole thing concludes with a parade and an ice cream eating (eatin'?) contest, otherwise known as "the best contest ever."

Adams County Fair


August 3-7


The Adams County Fair puts on quite a show, with the requisite carnival, demolition derby, dog tricks, petting zoo and food on a stick, as well as a karaoke contest, the Yellow Designs BMX Stunt Team and — most awesomely — a truck pull, which is pretty much the most American sport ever invented (that's right, baseball, we went there). Now in its 107th year, the fair actually kicks off on July 30 with a parade, but things don't really get going until Wednesday night, with an opening performance from a band called Boogie Machine.

Larimer County Fair


August 5-9


Larimer County sports the most traditionally rural county fair on this list, with events primarily centered around the PRCA Rodeo (the PRCA is basically the governing body of rodeo in America). To that end, there'll be plenty of things known as "scrambles," which feature a variety of animals, and much expected roping of other animals — plus there'll be a Mounted Cowboy Shooting Competition, just the watching of which is guaranteed to make you feel like Clint Eastwood. A carnival and plenty of live music will anchor the celebrations throughout the week, but one thing you will definitely not want to miss is the Ham Bone Express, which is...pigs that race!

Colorado State Fair


August 26-September 5


This is the granddaddy of all fairs in Colorado, well worth the trip to Pueblo. Closing out the summer, the Colorado State Fair comprises a whopping two weeks of all-out hootenanny, with a big carnival, multiple parades, a Fiesta Day, a demolition derby, figure-eight death races, rodeo, roller derby, and even concerts by the Beach Boys and Engelbert Humperdinck. Yee-haw! — Otte