GUNNISON, Colo. – There are more than 2 million acres across Gunnison County, and about a tenth of those acres are used for agriculture.
This is a home for farmers and ranchers and many others that care about agriculture. It’s the legacy left to many in Gunnison County, and it’s one of the many reasons why the annual Cattlemen’s Days celebration is such a big deal to the locals and others with ties to the Gunnison Valley. This year’s event is July 1-18 at the Fred Field Western Center in Gunnison.
“I would say Cattlemen’s Days and 4-H are key to the development of the area and the history of the area,” said Perri Pelletier, the 4-H agent for the Colorado State University Extension in Gunnison County. “I’m delighted to know all the things I’m learning about that.”
Though Pelletier has lived in Gunnison much of the past two decades, she’s still relatively new to her post at the extension office. She’s been at it about a year and oversaw the 2020 4-H experience, albeit through several COVID-19 precautions.
She may be new to the office, but she’s been around 4-H for several years. Her children began their involvement with the program in 2008, and her youngest recently graduated high school and 4-H.
“I believe the 4-H and FFA programs are very important to this community and the people in it,” she said. “We serve over 100 kids and have a marvelous growing experience for them each year. We had a full experience last year, but there were some COVID limitations. People got to show their projects. I’d say it was down a little bit from what we normally get.
“I think this year’s exhibits will be stronger. You can definitely tell the people are ready to experience a normal Cattlemen’s Days again.”
There are a number of categories, from various animal exhibits to general projects, 4-H offers opportunities for anyone who wishes to be involved. Yes, there are traditional livestock shows and the Junior Livestock Auction, but there are a variety of divisions for many interests.
The auction, which rewards the youngsters for their hard work in preparing and presenting their exhibits, is set for Saturday, July 10. In years past, the Junior Livestock Auction fell on the final Saturday of Cattlemen’s Days.
“The decision to have the auction on that date was made early in the spring,” Pelletier said. “This is the second year we’ve done that because of COVID. There are pluses and minuses for doing it that way.
“We have a little more room to spread out, because the rodeo events aren’t going on in the evening. That allows the rodeo people more access to the grounds. The downside of it is we lose some of the hype that we have when it’s all together, but we think this is the best Way to do it for now.”
Nonetheless, everyone is excited and ready for the fun and the ability to show off their wares during Gunnison’s biggest annual event, Cattlemen’s Days.