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Penners, Local Farmers and Ranchers, Are 2018 Boulder County Fair Family of the Year

July 28, 2018

Steve Penner checks the moisture content in a hay bale while baling a 30-acre field in the 8500 block of Arapahoe Road Thursday morning.

The 2018 Boulder County Fair Family of the Year is a trio who do much of the behind-the-scenes work to make the two weeks of events run like a well-oiled machine.

The Penners — husband and wife Steve and Arlene and daughter Morgan — have been involved in the Boulder County Fair for decades.

Steve Penner was active with 4H in the late 60s and early 70s and when the farmer couple’s daughter Morgan Penner was 4 years old in the late 1990s, they got her involved in the Fair’s bucket calf program.

All three Penners have been immersed in the Fair in several different capacities ever since. As 2018 Fair Family of the Year, the Penners will get to ride in the Boulder County Parade from 10 a.m. to noon on Aug. 4.

Morgan Penner, 24, was a 4-H member for 10 years and her major projects were beef and horse.

Arlene Penner said she and Steve wanted to get Morgan active in 4-H at a young age to give her a community in which to grow up.

“We wanted our daughter to be involved because you rarely see kids that are having any kind of legal trouble or something like that that have something better to do,” Arlene Penner said. “The fair is an excellent place to raise a family. And it’s a place where you go to see your friends that you’ve known your whole life.”

Although Morgan Penner aged out of 4-H, she mentors 4-H members, helps the Beef Supervisor with various tasks and donates cattle for the showmanship demonstration.

“I get the call from little kids and families like ‘come see my project’ and I help them make it more competitive and tell them how to feed their calves or exercise their animals or how to ride their horse,” Morgan Penner said. “To be able to mentor the younger generation is probably my favorite thing because you realize how important it was at their age when someone did that for me, so I’m trying to give back.”

Besides the three Penners’ regular work at the family farm and ranch, Arlene and Steve Penner both do a myriad of tasks for the Fair.

Steve Penner color codes the sold sale animals at the Market Sale, volunteers a skid steer and helps clean the beef barn and also helps with the tag-in in March, a ccording to the Fair write-up for the Penners .

Arlene Penner is the treasurer and past secretary for the Market Sale Committee and volunteers at the beef show and round robin

The Penner family supplies feed for many of the 4-H families, pulls a tractor to prepare the arena for the tractor pulls and demolition derby. They also donate the straw bales that people sit on at the beer garden and other places in the fair.

Steve Penner said that his family also helps clean up the barns after the fair.

“We’ve done this for years,” he said. “It’s not really a chore. It’s just something that we and some other people have done for years so it’s our deal. We do a lot of the things that people may not see or notice at first.”

Arlene Penner said that they are humbled to be selected as the Fair Family of the Year.

“It’s an honor that somebody would notice when you spend lots of time and energy doing things, it’s just an honor to be recognized,” she said.

Morgan Penner said that she also felt honored to be recognized and her family has been driven to give back to the fair because they feel it has given so much to them.

“The fair and 4-H and (Future Farmers of America) puts agriculture in kids’ lives when it might not be and agriculture is something my generation is very removed from,” she said. “It’s not only going to the county fair and being able to show your calves or whatever. It’s being around other people that share the same passions you do and have a chance to give that passion back to the community.”

Arlene Penner said that she hopes the traditions carry on into the future.

“Because of the change in our society, the fair is one of those things that’s a wholesome thing to do as a family and it’s something that people can accomplish and feel like they’re having a part of that community,” she said.

“I hope Boulder County continues to support and be involved in and make the fair happen because it’s a wonderful organization.”

Karen Antonacci: 303-684-5226, antonaccik@times-call.com or twitter.com/ktonacci

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