By SEAN ROWLEY
Tractors, horses and blue ribbons took center stage Thursday at the Cherokee County Fair.
Larry Wood and his son, Mason, were making preparations to enter their horse Sapphire, which was the fair’s grand champion in 2012.
“That was my first time to enter a horse in the fair,” Mason said. “We feel really good about our chances this year.”
Also held Thursday was the tractor-driving contest, judged by Darrell Hood, vo-ag instructor at Keys Public Schools.
“This event qualifies drivers for the state competition at the Tulsa State Fair,” Hood said. “I started doing this years ago just to help the kids. We’ve tried to get the equipment here as closely matched to what they will see at state. The only thing we don’t have that will be at state is a four-wheel wagon, and those are almost impossible to find around here.”
An early entrant in the tractor drive was Denton Halpin, 13, a student at Peggs.
“I just really want to win and have fun,” he said. “I took part last year, and besides, I am always on a tractor raking hay, feeding cows, unloading hay.”
Sadie Denton and Rylee Rowe of the Cherokee County Riders were getting ready to enter Raven and Titan in the horse show. Denton planned to enter Raven in all categories.
“It takes a lot of practice to get ready,” Denton said. “I’ve been around horses for 16 years, but Rylee got started riding just recently.”
Though around horses much of her life, Rowe found opportunities to horseback ride through friendship with the Denton family.
“My dad had to tow some cars for her dad,” Rylee said, smiling. “They became good friends, and I became good friends with Sadie - and they have horses.”
The indoor exhibits were also opened to public viewing in the afternoon, having undergone judging during the morning. Ribbons are displayed with the winning items.
The fair, at the Cherokee County Fairgrounds, 16436 U.S. Highway 62, continues through Saturday.
The Friday schedule includes the terrapin race and the dog, cat, poultry and rabbit shows. Jump houses will also be available for children.
The Cherokee County 4-H Steak Dinner Fundraiser is also Friday, running 5-8 p.m. The meal includes Angus sirloin steak, a baked potato, salad and a drink. Tickets are $10 each.
Saturday’s schedule features the large livestock shows, including cattle, sheep and goats.
To view a photo slideshow of Thursday’s Cherokee County Fair events, visit www. tahlequahTDP.com/on lineexclusives.