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Postcard from the Past - Volunteers Revive County Fair

Written by Dick Perue

Hoards of us strongly believe that rural volunteers could change the world for better if clueless bureaucrats would just allow it – sage advice from a discouraged volunteer and former newspaper publisher, editor, janitor and printer.

An editorial in the Sept. 7, 1916 hometown newspaper outlines what can be accomplished with volunteers who are free to “get the job done.” 

The article reads:

“We are assuming at this time responsibility that is no easy undertaking and that is the praise due to the officials of the Carbon County Fair Association for the Seventh Annual Fair. We have heard so much favor and have been so many times requested to make a special mention of the matter, that we are almost at sea to take the position of thanking them for the people. If we fail, we stand corrected and no back talk.

“The first thing on the program will be to doff your hats every time you meet Secretary Casteel for the next six months. If ever a man undertook an unpleasant, extremely hard and trying task, it was Casteel, when he whirled in to make a county fair this year – short notice, unpaid back premiums, no enthusiasm, no money and worst of all, no heart among the fair people. Under this condition Richmond was elected president and Casteel secretary, and they flew at it. Mr. Casteel worked night and day from that minute on until he left for his Cow Creek Ranch last spring. He never gave up but worked, planned, perspired and out of a conglomeration of mostly nothing brought out the most successful fair this country has ever witnessed.

“Unable to get the necessary help, he used some of his own ranch and office men. He not only did the planning but did more actual hard work than any two men should attempt. He was everywhere, filling a dozen places at once, and through it all he never overlooked a single detail, no matter how small. His judges were chosen with infinite care. He selected everything himself and saw that it was in its place.

“With it all, Mr. Casteel did one of the biggest feats of all in raising the funds to pay the back premiums, which has practically been accomplished. He neglected his entire private business, not only giving his own money but donating his time, which if paid in money could not compensate him for his services, as ingenuity of this kind knows no salary bounds. Not only the association owns him an unpaid debt of never-ending gratitude, but the people of the entire county feel that without this genius the Seventh Annual would have been a flat failure.

“We take this space in behalf of the entertained to thank Mr. Casteel and the officials and individuals who assisted him, fully aware of the feeble attempt to do the occasion justice.”

A news item following the editorial reads: 

“There were so many people here this week during the Fair that we threw up our hands trying to get the names of visitors from the surrounding country. People were here from Laramie, Rawlins, Encampment and other places, and it would take a paper twice this size to chronicle the entire list, but we are safe in the assertion that nearly every person in the valley was here, and we were glad to see them all.”