Chamber Business of the Month – Middle Park Fair and Rodeo

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Fairboard (L to R) Tonya French, Holly Hester, Cale Smiley, Dakota dle and Shea Meeks. (Not pictured Christy Horn and Carol Culbreath)

by Tara Sharp,
Executive Director
Kremmling Area Chamber of Commerce

I am beyond pleased to announce that the March 2020 Business Of The Month goes to the Middle Park Fair and Rodeo. This board is composed of some of the most hard working volunteers Grand County has to offer. It has been my pleasure to work alongside them on many events. The current Board sits as follows: Dakota Docheff-Cordle (President), Holly Hester (Vice President), Tonya French (Secretary), Carol Culbreath (Treasurer), Christy Horn (Member), Cale Smiley (Member), and Shea Meeks (Member). They have three vacant seats they would love to fill them!! Apply at [email protected]!

The Middle Park Fair & Rodeo was established in 1912 to provide the wild cowboys with a place to perform. It has grown from there, and today provides a place for the community, 4-H exhibits, wild cowboys, and much more!

When I asked them what new things they have planned for the upcoming months they said, “We have some SUPER exciting new events in the works this year! Skijorring, Kentucky Derby Party
& MONSTER TRUCKS!!!!”

I myself am super pumped for all of the fun new things they are bringing to the fairgrounds this year! I am sure I am not alone when I say I am especially excited for the Monster Trucks!!

When I asked them to tell me something we may not know about the Middle Park Fair and Rodeo they gave me the following information, which was relayed from Grace McElroy Menhennett to Con and Gladys Ritschard on September 4, 1974. Grace had read information in the Middle Park Times about the 60th Anniversary of the Middle Park Fair and Rodeo and wanted to include some additional information:
“Years ago, the cowboys from Middle Park, North Park and surrounding areas would get together every year to participate in a rodeo. As there was no place for the rodeos, they would be held on the main street of Kremmling, which is now Highway 40. In 1910, Grace’s uncle, Emery Sevier, was one of the cowboys entered in the rodeo. Grace and her father were watching from their
front porch but her mother was in the background as she was always fearful of someone getting hurt or crippled.

Emory was mounted on a wild bronc owned by Sam Martin (grandfather of John Colburn). He was thrown off the bronc and hit the brick wall of what was then a drug store, possibly owned by a German gentleman by the name of Casper Schuler and operated by Dr. Hook. (The building has since been torn down but was located between what is now Big Shooter’s Coffee Shop and The Well Liquor Store on Highway 40). Grace’s mother fainted hearing all of the commotion.

Grace’s father, in desperation said, “Well I am not a rodeo man, although I love good cattle and horses, but I will have to build a place for these wild cowboys to perform.” With Grace at his side, Mr. McElroy searched his ranch for a good spot for the rodeo. When he identified the place where the fairgrounds are located today, he enlisted the help of his good friend William H. Harrison, President of the Bank of Kremmling, to organize the Middle Park Fair.

Mr. McElroy carved out of his ranch, land for the fairgrounds, as well as the land for the Kremmling Airport. He also helped lay out the streets of Kremmling and named them. His insistence that main street be 100 feet wide resulted in it becoming Highway 40. Mr. Heini gave the property for the Town Square.

Mr. McElroy also hired his brother-in-law, John Atmore, to assist in building the race track. Daughter Grace (five-years-old) and her father’s shadow, was also enlisted. She was provided
a wheel barrow to pick up rocks from the track. She was picking up the large rocks when her father informed her it was the small rocks that hurt the horse’s feet. Grace said she remembered this so well because she thought it was the hardest work she had ever done.

It was too late in the fall, and all the work was yet to be completed, so an exhibit of school and fancy work was held in the Town Hall. The next spring, Mr. McElroy hired Mr. Frank Volgamont from Fraser and his Ford car (at the time there were only two cars in Grand County – Mr. Volgamont’s and Mr. F.C. Jones (who was not yet associated with the Bank of Kremmling)) and visited every ranch in Kremmling, soliciting funds to build the exhibit hall. According
to Grace, all gave generously.”

Thanks to the McElroy and Menhennett families, Middle Park Fair and Rodeo has continued and grown throughout the years.

I am so glad that I asked the previous question, as I had no idea the entire story of how the Middle Park Fair came about. How COOL!!!

When I asked the board what their favorite part of doing business in Kremmling was they enthusiastically answered that it was the support from a small town community that is unmatched, they love being able to continue community traditions, and giving the community something fun to do on the weekends without going out of town!

When these hardworking volunteers aren’t at Fair Board meetings you can find them ALL working their full time jobs, you will also find most members volunteering at sporting events, chamber events and living very busy lives. These amazing people really do a tremendous amount for our community. So if you see one or all of them out and about be sure to thank them for all they do!!
On behalf of the Kremmling Area Chamber of Commerce, we would like to thank you for being an outstanding business in our community!!

Thank you all for all you do!!

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