Colorado State Fair 140 Years
State Fair older than Colorado
Expo's roots date back to four years before Territory of Colorado achieved statehood
Colorado State Fair
A pair of silhouetted youngsters raise their hands while taking a spin on a ride called "Vertigo" on the Colorado State Fair midway Thursday. Photo by Bryan Kelsen
By NICK BONHAM
Sunday, March 18, 2012
The Colorado State Fair is older than the state itself.
Four decades and a century ago, a group of Pueblo businessmen organized what would later be known as Colorado’s first fair.
The year was 1872 and the Territory of Colorado was still four years shy of achieving statehood. That year saw Ulysses S. Grant re-elected as president, the opening of New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Yellowstone established as the first national park and lawless action by Jesse James and gang.
And during that time, Pueblo was starting an event and tradition that, unknowingly or not, would last for generations to come.
“It’s sort of mind-boggling, to think of all the people who have passed through here through the years. Millions of people have come here. Millions of young kids have competed here. Going back, this place has quite a history,” said Chris Wiseman, a native Puebloan and 14-year Fair employee, half of that time as general manager.
The expo is responsible for arguably the state’s largest annual party that celebrates agriculture and the Centennial State.
It is the largest stage for youth ag to showcase their livestock projects, the state championships where the spoils are blue ribbons, shiny belt buckles and a big payday at the Junior Livestock Sale.
Agriculture aside, there’s plenty of fun to be had at the Fair — carnival rides, funnel cakes, exotic foods, beer, concerts and vendors' wares of all kinds.
It'd be tough to find another venue where one can drink beer, eat a deep-fried candy bar, buy the latest kitchen utensil, attend a concert, ride bumper cars and pet a horse.
Because of the Fair, fans have witnessed musical greats young and old and of all genres — Garth Brooks, Toby Keith, ZZ Top, Bob Dylan, The Steve Miller Band, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Selena Gomez; the list is long.
Off-season at the Fairgrounds also saw numerous political leaders — presidents William H. Taft, George H. W. Bush and Barack Obama.
How has the Fair survived?
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