A bull rider is tossed off the animal during the Xtreme Bulls event at the 2022 Garfield County Fair and Rodeo in Rifle, Colo.

Garfield County sets 2023 fair and rodeo dates

Fair board takes shape with four seats appointed by the county commissioners

October 24, 2022

The 2023 Garfield County Fair and Rodeo has been scheduled for July 23 – 30 at the fairgrounds in Rifle. The Board of County Commissioners approved the dates, which were formally recommended by the Garfield County Fair Board.

Garfield County Fairgrounds and Events Manager Chris Floyd told the board that July 23-30 struck the best balance between all aspects of scheduling the annual event. The fair board’s selected dates best meet with the scheduling of vendors and ticketed event talent.

“It’s like trying to align the stars to best meet everybody’s needs and availability,” he said. “This year, the fair took place the first week of August, and in 2021 it was the last week of July. For 2023, the fair board recommended moving the fair back into the last week of July to accommodate a carnival, which is an important aspect of the event.”

The vote on fair dates was approved, 2-1, with Commissioner Mike Samson dissenting in favor of holding the fair later in the year to allow more time for 4-H and open class projects to come to fruition, and for produce and livestock to flourish. Commissioners Tom Jankovsky and John Martin supported the dates recommended by the fair board.

“We used to have the fair in September, and that gave the kids more time with their animals and allowed their vegetables to grow until harvest,” Samson said. “Cattle, lambs, hogs, chickens, now they all have to show them about five weeks earlier than they used to.”

“Times have changed, businesses have changed, and practices have changed,” Martin said. “The fair is now driven by economics and scheduling with the rodeo, carnival, and other offerings outside the county that we depend on to raise revenue.”

“I agree with Commissioner Samson, but that carnival is an important piece of the fair,” added Jankovsky.

The commissioners also voted to fill four open seats on the fair board. Oliviya Daugherty, Levy Burris, and Leah Bergener were unanimously reappointed to seats on the board after all expressed the desire to remain in those roles after their terms had expired. Six additional applicants submitted interest in joining the board, and after deliberation, the commissioners appointed Blair Bracken to fill a vacated seat for the remainder of a term ending Oct. 15, 2023.

“We have some really good people who applied to be on the board, so this is a really tough decision,” Samson said. “I want to say thank you to our fair board. Our events continue to be very successful, and I put that on the shoulders of our fair board.”

The commissioners implored the other applicants who were not appointed to apply again in the future if more vacancies become available. Rounding out the appointments, Duston Harris was named royalty committee chair for next year and Bracken was again selected as the open class chair in 2023.

“Blair has done an admirable job as open class chair, and I know the public service she has given to the City of Rifle, as well as to the fair, has been outstanding,” Samson added. “It’s a great problem to have an overabundance of talented people applying.”