Boulder County Fair dog shows bring out all breeds – Longmont Times-Call
The sun was shining, but Savannah Melocco and her dog, Rosie, were bracing for a downpour.
They entered the arena at the Boulder County Fairgrounds on Tuesday, dressed in raincoats. In one hand, Savannah held an umbrella dripping with paper raindrops and in the other Rosie’s leash. The set was for a costume contest – one of many contests for young people on Tuesday at the fairgrounds.
Just outside the ring where Savannah was walking, smiling with Rosie by her side, a small group of family and friends gathered to cheer on the competitors at this year’s dog show. The coronavirus pandemic put a strain on last year’s fair. Events were limited to 10 people and some exhibits have gone completely virtual. Seeing the kids compete this year was a returning element of the fair, which started on Friday and runs through August 16. But things are not completely back to normal. Due to the pandemic, fair officials announced earlier this year that this year’s events will be for exhibitors only, meaning no carnival, food vendors, or shows. The two-dozen or so contestants on Tuesday, however, seemed happy that they could just compete in person.
This year, cheers erupted from a small group of spectators who had gathered to watch the dog show competition in the indoor arena at the fairgrounds.
4-H Canine Superintendent Anne Janicki said being able to be together again was “huge for these kids.” Young people who participate in fair trade shows choose projects of interest. Those who sign up for dogs will follow a program with the leaders, giving them the chance to learn more about dog breeds, their behavior and engage in weekly dog training. Janicki has helped lead the canine projects since around 2017.
“Last year we were limited in the number of people who could be here (during the shows),” Janicki said. “We weren’t allowed to have parents here. They were sitting in their cars in the parking lot. And we were broadcasting live on Facebook. It was difficult for everyone to just participate and feel engaged.
Janicki pointed out that 4-H is not just for the “kids on the farm”. The fair’s programs, she said, provide the opportunity to participate in everything from animal displays to photography and cake decorating. The young people who participate in the shows overcome challenges, finding their voice and self-confidence, she said.
“When we start training in the spring, they’re always challenged,” Janicki said. “We see a few tears: ‘Mom, he won’t listen to me; he just wants you. ‘ From March to July, weekly dog training classes teach these children how to communicate and connect with these dogs and how to use their voice.
Savannah said Rosie’s daily training is paramount in being ready to compete in staging, rallying and obedience shows. Part of the training involved taking Rosie to various pet-friendly stores to get her acclimatized to crowds and other animals.
“Oh yeah, she got a lot of treats,” Savannah said of Rosie’s training.
This year marked Savannah’s first competition at the Boulder County Fairgrounds. Savannah said she enjoyed the opportunity to put her hard work into practice.
“I think my favorite part is the shows,” Savannah said. “I worked for this, now I’m really excited to show how I’ve been working on this for a very long time.”
She even liked the timeouts between competitions.
“You have to bring a lot of entertainment,” Savannah said, with a stack of UNO playing cards balanced on the arm of her chair.
Across the arena, Ani Young, 14, of Longmont, said she has been participating in dog shows for about five years. This year, she and her dog Django, a silky greyhound, took part in all three events: show, rally and obedience.
Young said competitions taught her leadership and that she appreciated the chance to have fun with her dog while being part of a team.
Although the fair has been changed this year, Young said the exhibitor environment didn’t feel drastically different from previous competitions.
“But, last year we had to do a live broadcast and it was just us in a building and a judge,” Young said. “It was certainly quieter and there were fewer distractions, but there was also a little more distraction in the complete silence.”
This year, Young, who will be attending Longmont High School in the fall, said she was happy to have other people around her.
“A lot of us are pretty much best friends so we can get together and celebrate each other and what we did that day,” she said.
Special for the costume contest, Kyra Cone, 15, from Erie, hand-made a dragon costume for herself and her 10-and-a-half-year-old Labrador, Jesse.
Cone said this was his first year at dog shows; She and Jesse were both having fun.
“(From Jesse) super nice. Love everyone and had a lot of fun working with this stuff, ”Cone said.
While this was his first year of competing, going to the Boulder County Fair was a regular event.
“It was a little weird (this year), but it was still a lot of fun,” Cone said. “I met new people and made a lot of friends.”
Janicki said top dog show qualifiers at the Boulder County Fairgrounds will participate in the Pueblo State Fair, which begins August 27. The names of the winners of the Boulder County Fair will be listed online at bouldercountyfair.org.