Let the county fair shine its light on you

Friday, Aug. 3, 2018 9:47 PM

You look for bright spots.

No matter what you have happening in your life, you look for those times, those people or those moments when a bit of sunshine can make a world of difference. As Brandi Carlile sang: “You can dance in a hurricane but only if you’re dancing in they eye.”

And while we haven’t had the hurricane in 2018 (yet), we, as a community, have endured drought, fire, flood and destruction. Lather, rinse, repeat – the breaks never seem to come. But we are resilient. Many of us have weathered this weather before, we have persevered and we will again.

Here at the Extension Office, we are in “fair mode,” with an office full of hot-pink 4-H shirts, kids running around stressed about making their projects the best they can be and an office staff that works so well that, really, I’m able to take a vacation the week before the county inundates the fairgrounds.

Greg and Angela, the 4-H Dream Team, are in their sixth or seventh year of fair madness. They make sure that all are welcomed with a smile and a calm voice. It’s impressive. Imagine 300-plus kids (and maybe more impressive, 500-plus parents), hundreds of animals, dozens of cakes and rooms of projects that have blood, sweat and tears built into them. And at some point during the week, they will incur some sort of emergency.

As someone who has coached baseball for five years, I know that parents – including myself – can be more work, more annoying and more trouble than any kid. During the almost two-week process of the La Plata County Fair, Greg and Angela, along with rookies Bailey and Becky, will keep the ship straight, and I thank them all for that.

I have the dubious honor of being relegated to the “flowers and veggies” room (upstairs above the Exhibit Hall), which, to be honest, is a pretty good gig. It’s air-conditioned and smells like flowers. We always welcome entries – flowers, vegetables, crops and fruit, oh my! – and as we have seen over the years, the Horticulture Room brings about all sorts of memories and future hopes.

It is not uncommon to hear about how a specific vegetable or flower reminds someone of their garden as a child. We see people snapping photos and writing down varieties and cultivars, vowing that they are going to grow those next year. I know that I have an ever-growing list of flowers that I hope to find a spot for in my yard and the vast majority of those were inspired from entries at the fair.

And every year I am reminded of fairs past, when my grandpa brought in his prized vegetables and plums and my grandma would stress that her roses wouldn’t be post-bloom and that she could still find one or two that would be “worth their weight in spit.”

So bring us a couple of your yardly treasures. Make someone smile. Because in 2018, we all need that bright spot.

Darrin Parmenter is the director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office. Reach him at or 382-6464. Darrin Parmenter

If you go

Fruits, vegetables and flowers for judging can be dropped off between 7:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Exhibit Hall at the La Plata County Fairgrounds, 2500 Main Ave.
For more information about the La Plata County Fair, visit or pick up a fair book at the Extension Office, 2500 Main Ave.