Randy, thank you for making the county fair our prize event

Each summer, the La Plata County 4-H program celebrates the traditions and pride of our community at the annual county fair.

4-H members bring in animals, food, heritage arts projects and much more to be on display for all to see. The fair also is filled with fun contests, a community barbecue, livestock shows and an auction, dances and more. Our 4-H’ers look forward to this event all year and will remember each one for a lifetime.

The fair is an annual success because of the tremendous amount of volunteer time and work put in throughout the year. The planning and organizing of such a big event is no small feat. It takes dedicated commitment and leadership. During the last 25 years, the La Plata County Fair has been a success because of the dedicated leadership of fair board president Randy McKee. Randy died Feb. 11 from complications of the H1N1 virus. He was 60.

There are many aspects to the fair, but the thing Randy loved most was working with the 4-H youths. He told me each year, that they were the main reason he was so dedicated. He took great pride in watching our members grow from year to year. He would tell me a story every fair about walking into an after-school community event and being able to pick out the 4-H members. He could do this because of their respectful mannerisms and ability to communicate with adults. Randy saw the value in how positive youth-adult partnerships are a benefit to our community.

Randy was instrumental in making our Junior Livestock Sale what it is today. Our 4-H members benefit by selling the animal they raised to the highest bidder. Randy worked with many businesses and people throughout our region to encourage them to become buyers. Most of our members put their sale money away for high education to attend trade schools, colleges or universities.

Randy also had a unique and admirable passion for keeping agriculture alive and relevant in La Plata County. The fair is a showcase for our agriculture roots and for the character of our region. He helped keep those roots and that character strong in our younger generation.

As many of us know, the fair will not be the same without Randy. However, he instilled a strong foundation for us to carry on the good spirit and values the fair represents.

The La Plata County 4-H community gives our deepest condolences to the McKee family. We will surely miss him. We thank Randy for his countless hours and dedication to the betterment of our program.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at Church of Christ, 2011 U.S. Highway 160B in Bayfield. Memorial contributions may be sent to the La Plata County Fair Board, c/o Extension Office, 2500 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301.

felsengh@co.laplata.co.us or 382-6463. Greg Felsen is La Plata County 4-H youth development agent.