Despite temperatures hovering in the high 90s to low 100s most of the week, the annual fair saw an increase in participation and visitors, said county fair director Rena Kerfoot.
The fair marked a milestone of sorts earlier in the week as hundreds of people gathered at the fairgrounds in Glenns Ferry to mark the 100th anniversary of the nation's 4-H program. The celebration included youth and adult representatives from each of the local 4-H and Optimist organizations.
Jose Gutierrez was one of the 4-H members tending to their chores in the livestock barns as others enjoyed the fair festivities. Guiding his pig, Robin, into an open pen, he was one of several teens from the Wild Bunch 4-H group that took turns giving their animals a bath and thorough brushing to help the animals combat the blistering afternoon temperatures.
In the new small animal barn, youngsters like Alexis Letendre were preparing their animals for additional judging Friday evening. A member of the local Waca Paca 4-H chapter, the 12-year-old was one of several members that dressed themselves and their animals in various attire for a costume contest in the animal arena.
As other 4-H members tended to their animals, curious onlookers like Kaitlyn and Devon Van der Haven stopped to take a look at Chocolate Kisses, an 11-day-old calf owned by Brianna Clark. While hesitant at first, the youngsters finally gathered up the courage to reach out and pet the very young calf, who didn't seem to mind the additional attention.
Shannon Gordon was one of many teens marking their first year in the county's 4-H program. She was convinced to join the agriculture program after listening to her friends talk about how much they enjoyed it.
"One of my friends said I should try it because she knew I'd enjoy it as well," the Mountain Home teen said.
Despite her limited experience, Gordon went on to earn reserve champion status for calf breeding with two additional blue ribbons for her work with her calf, Lady.
Meanwhile, Leayssa Murray marked her third year with the county 4-H program.
"My cousin raises pigs in Washington, and his animals were so cute that it got me into it," Murray said.
Murray admitted the toughest part of raising pigs is trying to convince the ornery oinkers to walk when they need to move from one pen to another. It takes a lot of prodding to get them to go, she said.
Livestock sales involving 4-H and Optimist members showed a significant improvement this year compared to previous numbers, according to Mir-M Seyedbagheri, a spokesman with the University of Idaho's extension office for Elmore County.
"We did extraordinarily good this year with very good sales," Seyedbagheri said.
Overall, livestock sales jumped by nearly 25 percent this year, which included a two-fold increase in the sale of swine with 54 sold on Sunday. The sale included 16 steer and 33 lambs.
Seyedbagheri credited the 4-H program for making a significant difference in the lives of youngsters and teens in this county. In addition to helping these members deal with the challenges associated with the level of care needed to raise livestock, the 4-H program helps them understand the economics needed to profit from these animals.
In fact, many 4-H members here invest the money they make from these livestock sales to help them achieve their education goals, according to Seyedbagheri. One teen in particular invested this money to help them attend classes at Boise State University with enough money left over to cover living expenses.
"That's what makes 4-H so outstanding," he added.
With participation up in both 4-H and Optimist organizations, it did cause a few "growing pains," according to Kerfoot.
"We've already outgrown our facility -- again," she said.
A grant from Idaho Waste Systems allowed the fair board to add a small animal barn on the grounds this year. Kerfoot hopes to secure additional grants to help upgrade the fairground electrical system to accommodate more vendors on the midway as well as recreational vehicles that remained parked on the grounds throughout the fair.
Other grants would also help fair officials make improvements to the exhibit building and animal pens while helping to build a barn to house alpaca project animals.
In addition to a noted increase in 4-H and Optimist participation, fair organizers saw a noted jump in open class competitors. The fair showcased the work of 173 open class exhibitors, including 66 youngsters, who displayed 837 entries. It was a 28 percent over last year's numbers, Kerfoot said.
The fair officially greeted the public on July 18 when the carnival midway and fairground exhibit hall opened. Featuring everything from cotton candy to live music, Kerfoot admitted there was something available for every age.
Among the events making their debut this year included Cook's Racing Pigs, which held three races a day last week. Based out of Galt, Calif., the races began with the running of small canines, many of which were rescued from animal shelters in California. Following their brief dash around the race track, the pooches made way for the piggy race, which took just seconds to complete.
Meanwhile, SilverHawk Aviation was on hand Friday to offer helicopter rides for those wanting a bird's-eye view of Glenns Ferry and surrounding areas.
Fair festivities moved into full swing last Thursday as the All-Youth Rodeo took center stage in the main arena. Attracting young cowgirls and cowboys, the competition remained fierce as tiny tots competed in dummy roping, stick horse races, goat tail untying and keyhole events.
A cross fence was erected down the center of the rodeo arena to separate mini cowpokes from events for older kids who participated in steer riding, goat tail tying, keyhole, and pole bending. Stock provided by King Cattle, gave cowboys and cowgirls a run for the their money as they bucked, spun and flung riders into the air.
Older competitors entered the ring Friday and Saturday during the Idaho Cowboy Association Rodeo. Despite the efforts of the announcer to invoke excitement from Friday night's rodeo crowd, audience enthusiasm remained fairly mellow. But that all changed when Riley Traudt of Glenns Ferry won the ranch saddle bronc event with a 77-point ride.
Overall, Kerfoot was pleased with this year's fair.
"This couldn't happen without all the volunteers," from parents and 4-H leaders, to local organizations and individual volunteers who man the gate, register and set up displays in the exhibit hall, oversee the exhibit hall and help spruce up the fairgrounds before the event.
Looking back, she added that the yearly fair and rodeo is a community affair that extends way beyond the boundaries of Elmore County. Donations from businesses throughout the state supplement the county's tight budget to help make the fair possible, and grants will continue to play a key role in financing the event, she said.
Kerfoot plans to seek out more grant sources this year while the fair's volunteer staff begin work on next year's event.