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.
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).
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, 1899, the Boulder County Fair was officially moved to Roosevelt 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. 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.