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Enjoy the Arapahoe County Fair: Past, Present, and Future

By Donnetta Wilhelm, Colorado Master Gardener

It’s time to visit the Arapahoe County Fair July 22-25 at 25690 E. Quincy Avenue, Aurora. The Fair offers a broad range of entertainment and educational opportunities for all ages. There is something for everyone to enjoy and learn from: the heirlooms of the past, practical gardening tips in the present, and sustainable landscape trends for the future. 

Retro Photo: Fair Vegetable Display ca. 1979

PAST

Does mid-July conjure memories of piping hot corn on the cob, cotton candy, and lemonade? Perhaps the memory includes a game of ring toss, tin-can alley, or a spin on the Ferris wheel. Step back in time with a visit to the Homestead featuring the barn and porch entrances with interactive, family-friendly activities and demonstrations rich in history and agricultural heritage.

The Arapahoe County Fair has been a fixture since 1906, so visit the booths and exhibits that are full of history: how past generations used animals, such as milk from cows, wool from alpacas, and honey from bees. Behold vintage quilts, heirloom knitting and crochet exhibits, sewing, basket making, and the horticulture displays that include timeless herbs of lavender, rosemary or thyme, old-fashioned roses or delphinium, home grown and home harvested vegetables, including the Cottage Garden or Everlasting Glory floral arrangements. Continue the step back in time with information from the booths of Arapahoe County’s historic 17 Mile House Farm Park and the Plains Conservation Center, where Master Gardener volunteers currently maintain the garden using similar garden methods and authentic seed varieties as settlers in the 1800s. There are endless ways to participate in events that are rich in history, and to join in many of the fun traditions of the Fair.

Photo: Fair Vegetable Judging ca. 1981

PRESENT 

Show off your best home-grown vegetables, herbs, annuals, perennials and arrangements in the youth and adult gardening Public Competitions. Have a prize-winning rose, savory oregano, dazzling radishes, or a beautiful lily to display? Flaunt your creativity with flower arrangements by entering the Glorious Scents or Fairy Garden classes. Take home a blue ribbon! Click here to enter. Lacking a ‘green thumb’? Speak with Master Gardener volunteers who can answer your landscape and gardening questions. Get information on how to participate in the popular Grow and Give Program and discover the locations of the six local demonstration gardens maintained by Master Gardener volunteers. Learn from Master Gardener volunteers how to handle the threat of Japanese beetle and Emerald Ash Borer. 

Photo: Fair Vegetable Competition, Junior Division ca. 1980

FUTURE

Educational opportunities abound to help guide the future. The shrinking of pollinator populations is a concern for worldwide food supplies and ecosystems. Visit the Master Gardener Pollinator Garden exhibit to learn how you can impact pollinator health. Water conservation and water quality are critically important. Stop by the Denver Botanic Gardens and Cherry Creek Watershed exhibits to obtain information on water. For waterwise gardening, Master Gardener volunteers can assist with information on reducing water usage in the landscape, tips for waterwise landscaping, use of native plants, and even irrigation practices during a drought. Understand sustainable landscaping, and how to Garden the Plains.

See you at the Arapahoe County Fair July 22-25 to celebrate the past, present, and future. 

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