Loma girl, with camel, headed to her first Mesa County Fair

Six-year-old Echo Bartels lets her baby camel Cinnamon suck on her finger after working with him at her family’s ranch northwest of Loma. Echo will show Cinnamon and a 4-month-old calf, Mickey, in the Bucket Calf Show at the Mesa County Fair, which opens Tuesday.


New this year for the 125th annual Mesa County Fair

The Mesa County Fair has several new activities planned this year to celebrate its 125th anniversary.  Among the highlights:

■ At 8 p.m. Tuesday, an anniversary celebration will begin with a concert by the Centennial Band and a commercial cake decoration competition in the grandstand area. The fireworks show will begin at 9 p.m. The fair received permission to stage a fireworks show, weather permitting.

■ At 7 p.m. July 20, a Working Ranch Rodeo will begin in the grandstand arena. The rodeo will feature ranch hands from Colorado and Utah demonstrating ranch life with team competitions in such events as roping, sorting, trailer loading and wild cow milking.

■ Several large concerts are scheduled nightly on the new celebration stage in an open grass area on the north end of the fairgrounds. The shows are free with paid admission. The headliners will be Lipbone Redding on Tuesday, Firefall on Wednesday, The Bellamy Brothers on July 19, Carlos Washington & Steel Horse on July 20 and The Williams Brothers Band on July 21. The shows begin anywhere from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

■ ­Kayak lessons will be taught daily from noon until 8 p.m. in the COOL Subaru Kayak Tent.

■ ­A 35-ton sand sculpture will be built during the duration of the fair. Construction begins Tuesday and concludes July 21.

At the far end of a gravel road, several miles northwest of Loma, lives ones of the youngest participants in this year’s Mesa County Fair.

He also might be the cutest.

The handsome guy likely to draw a crowd is Cinnamon, a domesticated 4-month-old camel with a curious disposition and insatiable appetite for high-fat milk, grass and a sweet grain mix of corn, rolled oats and molasses.

The girl responsible for grooming, bathing ­and showing Cinnamon at this year’s fair is handler Echo Bartels, a 6-year-old in a straw hat, cowboy boots and jeans with bedazzled pockets.

Echo will also be making her debut at this year’s fair, showing both Cinnamon and her 4-month-old calf Mickey in the Bucket Calf Show at 4 p.m. July 20 in the show ring.

(There wasn’t another category for Cinnamon, said Maggie Repp, Echo’s mother.)

The Bucket Calf Show is just one of hundreds of events and activities for all ages that will be offered at the fair, which celebrates its 125th anniversary starting Tuesday and running through July 21 at the fairgrounds, 2785 U.S. Highway 50. The Bucket Calf Show gives young animal enthusiasts their first chance to handle animals in a show environment.

Echo will be judged on showmanship, which means she’ll walk Cinnamon and Mickey around the ring to demonstrate her handling ability.

She has spent the past several months practicing.

“When I lead Mickey around, he’s pretty stubborn,” Echo said. “But Cinnamon’s not. He’s pretty excited.”

Other than Mickey’s stubbornness and Cinnamon’s urge to smell everything, the animals have a lot of similarities. They even get along well, other than the expected issues that arise when two young boys share a food source.

“They fight over the bottle,” Echo said with a shrug and a smile.

She isn’t sure how this year’s fair will go, but she has practiced all the questions the judges may ask and got her routine down for how to care for the animals once they get to the fairgrounds.

Echo is optimistic that this year won’t be her last competing at the county fair. To learn more about what to expect when she gets older, Bartels is partnering with a veteran 4-H exhibitor for the Little Squealers pig show at 4 p.m. July 19 in the pavilion show ring.

All the animal shows at this year’s fair are open to the public with general admission, which is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and $1 for children. Bicyclists and bus riders get in free.

Coupons for $1 off are available online at mesacountyfair.com.

Pick up a guide to the fair in Friday’s Daily Sentinel. It will include schedules, event descriptions and more.

Visit GJSentinel.com for a video of Echo caring for her baby camel and calf.


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