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Boulder County Fair Celebrates 150th Year

The Boulder County Fair is an annual fair hosted at the Boulder County Fairgrounds located at 9595 Nelson Rd., in Longmont, CO every summer. The fair lasts about 10 days and is fun for all-ages! Established in 1869, it is the oldest fair in Colorado and is celebrating its 150th year in 2019.

The Boulder County Fair began with a group of prominent, local farmers and ranchers. These early pioneers envisioned a community event that would celebrate the rich diversity of the area and display area resident’s projects and everyday activities through exhibits. The Fair would be a boom for the country’s economy and a showcase for the Boulder County lifestyle.

The Ferris Wheel, 1900-1925.

40 acres of land was purchased between (current day) 28th and 30th Streets, south of Valmont Road in Boulder for $600, and the fair was planned for mid-October. A pavilion, refreshment stands and stalls were erected, and the first fair was held in the Colorado Territory (Colorado earned statehood in 1876) on October 12, 1869. This first fair ran for four days with displays that featured flowers, vegetables, cereals and handmade crafts. There were also five classes of exhibits: Class A – Farming: Livestock and Farm Machinery; Class B – articles manufactured in Colorado; Class C – Mineralogy: displays of gold and silver bullion from Boulder County mines and additional minerals and geological specimens found in the state; Class D- Agriculture and Vegetables; Class E- Household and Pantry Goods. Each day also featured horse races, and the fair concluded with a mule race. The cost of this first fair was $5,000 (approximately $165,000 in today’s dollars).

Canned food and flowers on display in a showcase exhibit of local goods, 1930-1940.

In 1870, a round house was built for the mineral and agricultural displays as well as additional stalls, saloons and corrals. In 1875, a grandstand, with a seating capacity of 1,000, was added to the site and horseracing increasingly became the main attraction. By 1877, farm machinery became the big attraction, especially steam-powered machines.

The City of Longmont became the fair’s host in 1885. The event in Boulder continued to deviate from the original agricultural focus, so the fair was moved and renamed “Pumpkin Pie Days” while the horse racing and gambling attractions remained in Boulder, along with a smaller exhibition. On October 5, 189, the Boulder County Fair was officially moved to Roosevelt Park (then Driving Park) in Longmont. That year the fair was only one day, but it featured events like traditional horse racing, as well as, livestock and home economics exhibits. The women of Boulder County honored Pumpkin Pie Days by making enough homemade pies to feed the entire fair crowd, free of charge.

Today, the Fair features a wide range of activities like a carnival, concerts, vendors, crafts, livestock shows, 4-H competitions, rodeos and much  more.

Bull riding at the rodeo by Paul Marcotte.

There are many free educational, agricultural, and interactive activities and kids will love the petting zoo. Grab some cotton candy and hop on a carnival ride – the fair offers unlimited ride wristbands and a discounted Kid’s Day for rides every year. Check out the competition with the 4-H contestants. You’ll see everything from livestock to arts & crafts on display, and you can appreciate the hard work of many area youngsters. Entrance to the Fair is free for visitors with no charge for parking. Some special events do charge admission such as rodeos, motorized sporting demos and signature grandstand events.

A link to the Fairgrounds map can be found here. The 2019 dates for the fair are August 2 – August 11, 2019.

Carnival Rides at the Boulder County Fair.

A list of commonly asked questions about the Boulder County fair can be found below:

Location, Admission & Hours:
Q: Where is the Boulder County Fairgrounds?

A: Boulder County Fairgrounds are located at 9595 Nelson Road, Longmont, Colorado.

Q: What is the Admission Fee for Boulder County Fair?

A: There is NO Admission Fee for Boulder County Fair. There are also NO parking fees for Boulder County Fair.

Q: What are the dates and hours of the Boulder County Fair?

A: The fair begins Friday, August 2nd, 2019 and runs through Sunday, August 11th, 2019. The overall fairground hours are 10 am -10pm- daily. The Fair Garden and Outdoor Arena and Carnival hours vary depending on the particular day’s events and entertainment.
4-H Goat at the Boulder County Fair by Lyn Simuns.

Ticketed Events:
Q: Where can I purchase tickets to the Signature Grandstand Events?

A: Outdoor Arena event tickets can be purchased through our website beginning June 1st. Tickets may also be available at the Boulder County Fair Administrative Office two weeks prior to the event. Please contact the BCF Office at 720-864-6460 to confirm availability. Additional tickets are available at the Ticket Booths on the day of the event.

Q: Is there reserved seating in the Outdoor Arena?

A: No, all seating is general admission. There is Handicap seating available in the Outdoor and Indoor Arenas.

Q: How can I purchase Pit Passes for the Demolition Derby?
A: Pit Passes can ONLY be purchased at the event. A witnessed waiver must be signed at time of payment. They are available in the Northeast lot.

Grounds Information:

Q: Can I use cash for all my purchases on the grounds?

A: Cash is good anywhere but in the carnival area. In the carnival area machines will convert your cash to tokens for the rides,unless you purchase a wrist band.

Q: Are there ATMs on the premises?

A: ATMs will be available, with at least one located outside the Exhibit Building and one by the fair garden.
Q: Do you have stroller or wheelchair rental?
A. We do not have these available for rent but available free of charge at the entrances if available.
Q: Can I bring my dog to the fair?
A: Pets are not allowed in the animal barns, indoor arenas or the exhibit building rabbit & cavy area. Dogs need to be on leashes.
Q: Do you have handicap parking and where is it provided?
A: Handicap parking is provided in the north lot, east lot, west lot and south lot of the fairgrounds. A handicap sticker or placard is required.
Q: Are there information booths?
A: Schedules, information on special events and show times can be located throughout the Fairgrounds and at the information booths at the North and South entrances.