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Counting the days to the county fair

As a newcomer to Archuleta County and Pagosa Springs, my family and I are counting down the days until the 2012 Archuleta County Fair.

As a former 4-H’er, county Extension agent and statewide administrator back home in Illinois, the concept of a county fair is not new to me. However, as the new county Extension director and county agent in Archuleta County, I feel like a kid at Christmas waiting to see what unfolds in this brand new place I get to call home.

I can’t think of a better way to spend a hot summer weekend than meeting new friends, eating a funnel cake and seeing hundreds of award-winning exhibits at the 61st annual Archuleta County Fair, Aug. 2-5.

The county fair is the place where the community comes together to share our agricultural successes as ranchers, farmers, rodeo riders, gardeners, artists, bakers, food preservationists, photographers, quilters, homemakers, scientists, woodworkers, historians and showmen.

At what other moment can you meet up with the best of the best in Archuleta County?

Healthy competition earns 4-H’ers and adults of all ages the chance to win a prized blue ribbon while exhibiting your skills for all to see and admire. And besides, who doesn’t want to show off their grand champion pie or be known as Homemaker of the Year?

Though I am a bit biased, my favorite part of the fair will surely be the 4-H exhibits, contests and competitions. Having moved to Archuleta County this past April, it has been a special pleasure meeting all of the wonderful 4-H’ers and their families these past few months. To the 4-H member who has been working all year raising livestock, building their exhibit, working on their various projects and practicing their demonstration skills, the fair is the one place they can showcase all that they have learned and accomplished with the community at large. The experiences 4-H’ers have at the fair will be influential throughout their lives as prosperous adults and future leaders.

If you would like to learn how to become a member of 4-H or share your skills as a 4-H volunteer, be sure to contact Becky Jacobson at 264-5931 or e-mail at coopext_archuleta4h@mail.colostate.edu.

As I get to know the community, I just know there are extraordinary talents among the residents in and around Pagosa Springs. But the only way to display your skills and abilities is by being part of the competition and entering your project at the fair! To learn how to enter an exhibit, view the schedule of events or register as a vendor, be sure to visit the fair website: http://archuletacountyfair.com/. You won’t want to miss the livestock auction, rodeos, Salida Circus, Cowboy Fast Draw, barbecue competition and Junkyard Jamboree.

I look forward to being inspired by all of the wonderfully talented folks who make up Archuleta County during my first visit to the local county fair. It is my sincere wish that everyone who attends the fair learns something new about our agricultural and ranching community.

Bring your friends and family out to celebrate the fruits of our labors and enjoy what is so special about living here. I’ll see you at the fair.

Tomato questions

One of the most popular questions in July is, “Why are the blossoms falling off my tomatoes?”

High temperatures particularly when coupled with drying winds interfere with pollination. Un-pollinated flowers dry and won’t remain on the plant. Tomato pollen is transferred within the same flower by shaking of the plant and is not wind or insect carried. Windbreaks, ensuring consistent moderate moisture in the soil and clustering plants may be somewhat helpful in preventing blossom drop.

Other tomato complaints have centered on why plants haven’t grown as fast as usual or why fruit is not sizing or ripening. The answers are again environmental. Tomatoes grown in the mountains often get a late start due to cold night temperatures that can last into the second week of June. Three nights that week with temperatures below 40 degrees F can set back newly planted plants. These plants can take several weeks to recover and resume active growth.

Tomatoes have the reputation as being heat lovers probably because they are intolerant of spring cold. They only tolerate so much heat and fruit does not increase in size at temperatures over 95 degrees. July and early August can bring many days above 90 degrees.

Tomatoes grow best at uniformly moderate temperatures between 65 to 85 degrees. This is why a high altitude, semiarid climate like Colorado with wide daily temperature swings is not a favorable area for tomato growing. Days are often too hot and nights are often too cold during the growing season for tomato growth and fruit development.

Calendar

July 26 — Scrapbooking Project meeting, 1:30 p.m.

July 27 — Final 4-H Livestock interviews, 9 a.m.

July 27 — 4-H Dog Agility Project meeting, 3 p.m.

July 27 — 4-H Rabbit Project meeting, 4 p.m.

July 30 — 4-H Rocketry Project meeting, 3 p.m.

July 31 — Fair Volunteer meeting, 6 p.m.

Aug. 1 — 4-H Sportfishing Project Club, 4 p.m.

Aug. 2 — Archuleta County Fair.

Aug. 3 — Archuleta County Fair.

Aug. 4 — Archuleta County Fair.

Aug. 5 — Archuleta County Fair.

Learn more about our upcoming events on our webpage at www.archuleta.colostate.edu.

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