High tech pay system debuts amid traditions of Colorado State Fair

August 23, 2013 Updated: August 24, 2013 at 6:53 am
photo - Anna Vetter, 7, of Bennett, Colo., helps her father, Greg Vetter, clean up her brother's sheep, Swagger,  Friday, Aug. 23, 2013 during the first day of the State Fair in Pueblo. The fair runs through Monday, Sept. 2, 2013. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
Anna Vetter, 7, of Bennett, Colo., helps her father, Greg Vetter, clean up her brother's sheep, Swagger, Friday, Aug. 23, 2013 during the first day of the State Fair in Pueblo. The fair runs through Monday, Sept. 2, 2013. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock) 

The Colorado State Fair has gone high-tech.

It's the first state fair in the United States to use a cashless system.

Fairgoers can use cash for products from vendors, said Christi Lightcap, spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

For everything else - food, drinks, games and rides - it's cashless.

See a photo gallery of the fair here.

ATM-like machines are in 140 kiosks throughout the fairgrounds where people can get a cash card, put money on it with cash, debit or credit cards, and then use the card for spending. It costs $1 to buy the card.

So far, it's drawing mixed reviews.

Young people love it, said Chris Wiseman, general manager of the Colorado State Fair.

"It's generational," he said. "It kinda depends on your age and how you feel about the systems. My daughter loves it. Next year you will probably be able to load the card right on your phone."

For the business side of the fair, it's about cash control.

"We control all the revenue, and we pay the concessionaires," Wiseman said. "The old way was that the concessionaires paid us. It gives us a lot of control because we make most of our money in 11 days."



If you thought the Colorado State Fair was just about throw-up rides, deep-fried Twinkies and the smell of farm animals.

This weekend marks the 10th annual Foamfest, a beer competition at the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo. For $30 you get a commemorative glass and unlimited samples. It runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the fair’s Special Events tent.

Read more about Foamfest here.



The 11-day event pumps about $29 million into the state's economy.

There are other benefits, he said.

If a card is lost, cardholders can get new cards without losing money.

On opening day Friday, some visitors used the machines for the first time as others were on to other fair events by midday.

Despite the newfangled way of paying for things, the traditions and rural roots of the fair were apparent.

Eleven-year-old DeLana Haymon was trying to lure a trout to a hook dangling in a large metal tub. She didn't have a lot of luck at first. Getting them to bite was one thing. Getting them to stay on the line afterward was quite another. She stuck at it until she was successful.

DeLana and her mother, LaRonda Haymon, made the trip for the fair's first day from Castle Rock. It was DeLana's first fair.

She's fished before, so this was not an overwhelming experience.

"It's fine," she said.

What she was really looking forward to was milking a cow.

"She wants to be a veterinarian," her mother said.

The fish tank also attracted Pfc. Wanda Rue, with the Colorado Army National Guard.

The Colorado Springs resident, who works at the Post Exchange at Fort Carson, was volunteering at the fish tank.

She was trying to catch a trout so she could practice removing it from a hook, she said with a laugh.

In many ways, the 141st state fair was typical fair fare with a taste of Pueblo.

Carnival rides. Animals everywhere. Overwhelming heat.

Vendors were selling such things as cowboy hats, curly fries and corn dogs.

In the horse area, young contestants rode bicycles, forgoing their horses. Others cantered in arenas, practicing for competition.

There were Polish Continental roosters, Welsh Harlequin ducks and minilop rabbits.

In the Ag Palace, vendors hawked beds, furniture, bathrooms, spas, massage equipment and jewelry.

Republicans and Democrats had vendor spots hawking their, well, politics.

About noon, fairgoers were introduced to a new attraction. A news conference was held to announce the state's first Colorado Proud Store, a push for local products.

Included were Edward Avalos, under secretary for marketing and regulatory programs for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture John Salazar.

Colorado Proud is a 14-year-old program by the state's agriculture department to promote Colorado's commodities. The store will be open every year at the state fair.

Not of buying age yet, 2-year-old Ronnarose Montoya, had other things on her mind.

She was milking a cow.

Huddled at the cow's udder with her grandmother, Bonnie Harbour, and the cow handler, she gave the teat a tentative tug.

It was a tiny tug, nervous as she was. But then, the cow was apprehensive, too.

Harbour picked up Ronnarose and aimed her at the cow's head.

"Doesn't she have pretty eyes?" she asked.

"Moo," said Ronnarose.

"Yes, moo," Harbour said.



When: 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays-Sundays and Sept. 2, noon-11 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, runs through Sept. 2

Where: Colorado State Fairgrounds, 1001 Beulah Ave., Pueblo

Tickets: $7 Mondays-Thursdays, $10 Fridays-Sundays, $7 ages 5-12, free 4 and younger with adult; 1-719-561-8484, coloradostatefair.com


Entertainment Lineup

Shows start at 7 p.m. in the Budweiser Rodeo Arena

Aug. 23: Randy Houser, $25

Aug. 24: Dwight Yoakam, $25

Aug. 26: Gloriana, $22

Aug. 28: The Oak Ridge Boys, $25

Aug. 29: Little Big Town with Dustin Lynch, $36

Aug. 30: Seether, $30

Aug. 31: Lynyrd Skynyrd, $37


Special Events

Aug. 23-27: PRCA Ram Rodeo, 7 p.m.

Aug. 27: Jr. Livestock Sale, 2-6:30 p.m.

Aug. 24: Colorado State Fair Parade, 10 a.m.

Aug. 28: Silver queen and court crowning, noon

Aug. 30-31: Monster Trucks, 8 p.m. Aug. 30, 1 p.m. Aug. 31

Aug. 31: Kids Day Parade, 10 a.m.

Sept. 1: Fiesta Day and Fiesta Day Parade, 10 a.m.

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