In 2011, Dana Cain and friends came up with the idea of a Denver County Fair at a party in Ironton. Ever since Denver had consolidated into its own county in 1902, it was one of the few counties in the state to never have developed a county fair. Bemoaning this lack, the privately run fair was incorporated as an LLC, and a new era of fairs began.
If you go to their site, Denver County Fair.Org you will see a lot of the traditional things fairgoers expect in a county fair. Held on the Stock Show grounds, there is livestock showing and judging, baking contests, jellies, jams, canned goods displayed and judged, veggies of all kinds, arts and handcrafts galore. 4H is heavily involved in the fair, and it attracts people from all walks of life.
But the fair is a little different as well. Last year, the fair had displays of Nigerian dancing, a Denver food truck roundup, a speed knitting contest and unicorn rides. Competitions also included a Peeps diorama, homemade robots, a human chicken contest and a zombie beauty pageant.
This year, to celebrate Colorado's new Marijuana law, DCF has added competitions in joint rolling, Grateful Dead Karaoke, Best plant grown, products made of hemp, and several other marijuana related competitions, nine in all.
Fair organizers have made it abundantly clear that the marijuana pavilion for this will be 21 and over only - and this is STRICTLY enforced for both the marijuana and beer pavilions, ID is REQUIRED - that not a single scrap of marijuana will be found on the fairgrounds; all judging will be done off site and and winners announced and awarded at the fair.
The plants will be judged on the growth, shape, health of the plant itself, not the potency of the marijuana. Even the joint rolling contest will use oregano rather than actual marijuana. The fair will be abiding by the state law in these competitions.
But there is concern that because the fair is adding these aspects, they are subjecting young children to aspects of a drug culture, that they are going to fill the fair with "stoners"; even supporters of the law are misunderstanding what is going to happen with this competition - but why? The Denver County Fair has been judging beer and wine making competitions since they started, and no one is worried that the fair will being in alcoholics. In fact, compared with the nine marijuana categories, the fair also judges 26 categories of alcohol - 24 of homemade beer, four for homemade wine and one for "spirits and liqueurs."
The Marijuana and Beer pavilions are also not in the main stream of traffic; it is possible to go to the fair and never go near them. Your children will never know they exist.
As quoted on Denver Channel 7 News, Tracy Weill, one of the founders and the fair's marketing and creative director, says that since Marijuana is now legal, this is just another of Colorado's agricultural crops.
Since Colorado has also allowed the first commercial contracts for the growing of hemp in decades, this is both a farm and urban crop, one that holds a great deal of benefit for the state financially. It holds nation wide implications and medicinal use and hemp products will be more fully explored.
When August rolls around, go to the fair. It's not your grandma's state fair, but she'd have a great time at it as well. Nothing has changed except a few new competitions. Go on, enjoy the fair. You don't need to go in the marijuana pavilion if you don't want to. But maybe you should, just for the informational aspects.