A look into the history of the Middle Park Fair
The following information was relayed from Grace McElroy Menhennett to Con and Gladys Ritschard on September 4, 1974. Grace had read information in the Middle Park Times about the 60th Anniversary of the Middle Park Fair and Rodeo and wanted to include some additional information.
"Years ago, the cowboys from Middle Park, North Park and surrounding areas would get together every year to participate in a rodeo. As there was no place for the rodeos, they would be held on the main street of Kremmling, which is now Highway 40. In 1910, Grace’s mother’s brother, Emery Sevier, was one of the cowboys entered in the rodeo. Grace and her father were watching from their front porch but her mother was in the background as she was always fearful of someone getting hurt or crippled.
Emory was mounted on a wild bronc owned by Sam Martin (grandfather of John Colburn). He was thrown off the bronc and hit the brick wall of what was then a drug store, possibly owned by a German gentleman by the name of Casper Schuler and operated by Dr. Hook. (The building has since been torn down but was located between what is now Big Shooter’s Coffee Shop and The Well Liquor Store on Highway 40). Grace’s mother fainted hearing all of the commotion.
Grace’s father, in desperation said, “Well I am not a rodeo man, although I love good cattle and horses, but I will have to build a place for these wild cowboys to perform.” With Grace at his side, Mr. McElroy searched his ranch for a good spot for the rodeo. When he identifi ed the place where the fairgrounds are located today, he enlisted the help of his good friend William H. Harrison, President of the Bank of Kremmling, to organize the Middle Park Fair.
Mr. McElroy carved out of his ranch land for the fairgrounds, as well as the land for the Kremmling Airport. He also helped lay out the streets of Kremmling and named them. His insistence that main street be 100 feet wide resulted in it becoming Highway 40. Mr. Heini gave the property for the Town Square.
Mr. McElroy also hired his brother-in-law, John Atmore, to assist in building the race track. Daughter Grace (fi ve-years-old) and her father’s shadow, was also enlisted. She was provided a wheel barrow to pick up rocks from the track. She was picking up the large rocks when her father informed her it was the small rocks that hurt the horse’s feet. Grace said she remembered this so well because she thought it was the hardest work she had ever done.
It was too late in the fall track and all the work was to be completed, so an exhibit of school and fancy work was held in the Town Hall. The next spring, Mr. McElroy hired Mr. Frank Volgamont from Fraser and his Ford car (at the time there were only two cars in Grand County - Mr. Volgamont’s and Mr. F.C. Jones (who was not yet associated with the Bank of Kremmling)) and visited every ranch in Kremmling, soliciting funds to build the exhibit hall. According to Grace, all gave generously."
Thanks to the McElroy and Menhennett families, Middle Park Fair and Rodeo has continued and grown throughout the years.