In Photos: At The Arkansas Valley Fair, Folks Gather In Person Once Again For A 144th Time

August 23, 2021
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Selfie time for cowboys on rodeo night in Rocky Ford on Friday, Aug. 20, 2021, at the Arkansas Valley Fair.

The Arkansas Valley Fair considers itself the oldest continuously run fair in Colorado, and it kept that tradition alive last year during the COVID-19 lockdown by hosting just a few important traditions, including a watermelon giveaway, even as it canceled a lot of the big crowd pleasing events.

This year, the 144th in a row, it was back in full swing. From needlepoint to livestock judging, to a parade and rodeo, an amusement park and a demolition derby, the fairgrounds were brimming with folks from all over the region for five days, August 18-22. The pandemic felt a long way away. Here's a little of what we saw.

Be sure to listen to Colorado Matters live on Monday, or later on the show's podcast, to hear host Ryan Warner's conversations with a range of guests talking about life in the agriculture-driven community and the region. It's part of a two-week road trip the show is making around the state.

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La Junta firefighters were among numerous first responders represented at the the Arkansas Valley Fair Parade along Main Street in Rocky Ford on Friday, Aug. 20, 2021.
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Members of the Rocky Ford High School Meloneers Marching Band on Main Street in Rocky Ford on Friday, Aug. 20, 2021, during the Arkansas Valley Fair Parade.
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Rocky Ford is famous for the millions of cantaloupe it produces each year, but Friday, August 20, was Watermelon Day at its Arkansas Valley Fair Parade, and National Guard trucks hauled piles of the fruit past spectators along Main Street to the fairgrounds.
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Jose Martinez sells balloons to spectators along Main Street in Rocky Ford on Friday, Aug. 20, 2021, for the Arkansas Valley Fair Parade.
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Kids scramble for candy thrown by participants in Rocky Ford's Arkansas Valley Fair Parade along Main Street on Friday, Aug. 20, 2021.
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Shriner 3 Putt waves during the Arkansas Valley Fair Parade on Friday, Aug. 20, 2021.
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While the in-person Arkansas Valley Fair was put on hold last year because of public health guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the 144th fair and parade tradition this year was embraced in person by young and old alike.
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Steer wrestling as the sun sets during the Colorado Pro Rodeo Association competition Friday evening in Rocky Ford, August 20, 2021, at the Arkansas Valley Fair.
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Steer wrestling as the sun sets during the Colorado Pro Rodeo Association competition Friday evening in Rocky Ford, August 20, 2021, at the Arkansas Valley Fair.
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Rodeo night is a family affair in Rocky Ford on Friday, Aug. 20, 2021, at the Arkansas Valley Fair.
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CPRA breakaway roping Friday night in Rocky Ford at the Arkansas Valley Fair.
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Rodeo night in Rocky Ford on Friday, Aug. 20, 2021, at the Arkansas Valley Fair.
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Rodeo night in Rocky Ford on Friday, Aug. 20, 2021, at the Arkansas Valley Fair.
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Gotta get the hat right on rodeo night in Rocky Ford on Friday, Aug. 20, 2021, at the Arkansas Valley Fair.
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Horse racing on Saturday at the Arkansas Valley Fair in Rocky Ford.
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Pure summer.
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The COVID-19 pandemic felt a long way from the Arkansas Valley Fairgrounds in Rocky Ford, Aug. 21, 2021.
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Scenes from Saturday at the Arkansas Valley Fair in Rocky Ford, Aug. 21, 2021.
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The grandstand, the bleachers, and any fence rail with a view were crowded Saturday night for the demolition derby at the Arkansas Valley Fair.
210821-CMOTR-ROCKY-FORD-ARKANSAS-VALLEY-FAIR-DEOLOITION-DERBYHart Van Denburg/CPR News
The grandstand, the bleachers, and any fence rail with a view were crowded Saturday night for the demolition derby at the Arkansas Valley Fair.
210821-CMOTR-ROCKY-FORD-ARKANSAS-VALLEY-FAIR-DEOLOITION-DERBYHart Van Denburg/CPR News
The grandstand, the bleachers, and any fence rail with a view were crowded Saturday night for the demolition derby at the Arkansas Valley Fair.
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Scenes from the Saturday evening demolition derby at the Arkansas Valley Fair in Rocky Ford, Aug. 21, 2021.
210821-CMOTR-ROCKY-FORD-ARKANSAS-VALLEY-FAIR-DEOLOITION-DERBYHart Van Denburg/CPR News
The grandstand, the bleachers, and any fence rail with a view were crowded Saturday night for the demolition derby at the Arkansas Valley Fair.
210821-CMOTR-ROCKY-FORD-ARKANSAS-VALLEY-FAIR-DEOLOITION-DERBYHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Pulling a driver from the wreckage of an overturned truck during the demolition derby at the Arkansas Valley Fair. The driver walked away safe.
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Late evening dance Saturday at the Arkansas Valley Fair in Rocky Ford.
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Late night lemonade at the Arkansas Valley Fair.
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Help wanted. The Arkansas Valley Fair ran through Sunday, August 21, 2021.

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