Manager Janet Konkel puts her all into Weld County Fair and wins prestigious award for doing it
April 11, 2017
Road to the county fair
This year’s “Road to the county fair” will focus on the people who work to put the Weld County Fair together as they get ready for the 99th annual county fair.
There is a bulletin board in Janet Konkel's office with a plain white piece of paper that reads, in all caps, "JANET'S FAIR NUMBER."
As the Weld County Fair coordinator, a job she's had since 2011, Konkel is the one to call during the fair, if you can track her down.
There's a lot to manage, but she does it with plenty of help.
All that work paid off as she was named the 2016 Fair Manager of the Year by the Rocky Mountain Association of Fairs, a group made up of 14 states and two Canadian provinces.
“We are unique in that. We are here for the kids.
— Janet Konkel, Weld County Fair coordinator
"I didn't even know I'd been nominated," she said.
It was a big honor for her, all the same. She contends the award speaks to the reputation and quality of the Weld County Fair. As long as it's about the fair, Konkel doesn't shy away from boasting, saying it's easily "one of the top fairs in the western U.S."
She knew that before she worked there, though, as her daughters, Erin, Sara and Beth, participated in it.
"I'm a 4-Her for life," Konkel said with a smile.
Konkel participated in 4-H while growing up in Prescott, Ariz. In 1978, she and her husband, Mike, moved to Greeley to open a Baskin Robbins ice cream store. She owned the two shops that used to be in town.
This year's fair still is 101 days away, but planning started 254 days ago. The fair is a year-round job; she's busy all the time, not just during the fair.
The committee already is meeting about next year's fair. Since it's fair No. 100 for Weld, it's kind of a big deal.
But first priority is still this year's fair.
One thing that sets the Weld County Fair apart from many others is there is no carnival. There are two main reasons for that. First, the fair starts less than a month after the Greeley Stampede ends. The other comes down to the purpose of the fair: 4-H.
"We are unique in that," Konkel said. "We are here for the kids."
She said it surprises a lot of other fair managers.
But when you look at the reputation of the Weld County Fair, the recognition it and those like Konkel have received, the result seems to speak for itself.
Right now, Konkel said, her main focus is getting this year's fair book together and ready. The book includes the names of all the exhibitors who will show at this year's fair, along with a few stories about people who are part of the Weld County Fair family. It's roughly the size of a college textbook.
Plus, there's a lot to live up to, as the Weld County Fair has had an award-winning fair book — yes, they give out awards for that, too.
But that's just the main task for this month, and the closer July 22 gets, the more there is to do.
— Samantha Fox is an agriculture reporter for The Fence Post and The Greeley Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, (970) 329-4410 or on Twitter @FoxonaFarm.