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PUEBLO — The price of admission to the 151st annual Colorado State Fair in Pueblo offers access to birds and beasts, daring young men and women on the flying trapeze and soaring dogs. There are carnival thrill rides and chill rides, cowboys and cowgirls, country music singers and comedians. If you’re a foodie, there are corn dogs to be had. Or if you have a more adventurous palate, there’s always alligator-on-a-stick. Or if you just like to watch, there’s The World’s Slopper Eating Championship on Saturday at 3 p.m.

As the State Fair nears its conclusion this weekend, it eases into fiesta mode, celebrating Colorado’s Hispanic traditions, kicking off with a parade Sunday then presenting resplendent folklorico dance performances, and charros, too.

TOP Fairgoers take photos with the sand sculpture at the Colorado State Fair. “Mountains of Fun” is this year’s fair theme. LEFT Hunter Romero, a drum major with Sand Creek High School Marching Band, uses his smart phone to help tune bandmates’ instruments before taking part in the parade. RIGHT Cosmo the Malinois braces for a splashdown after a 28-foot leap into a pool during The Canine Stars show. Cosmo, along with the entire Canine Stars cast, is a rescue. (Photos by Mike Sweeney, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Slow moving Mulligan Wheel’s riders relax above the fairgrounds. (Mike Sweeney, Special to The Colorado Sun)
Taron Montee, center, and his daughters Kennedy, left, and Lynden gasp while free-falling on the Super Shot carnival ride. (Mike Sweeney, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Should you make your way to the State Fair before the gates close Monday evening, taking in all the sights will lead you on a meandering 3-mile walk over the course of the 102-acre fairgrounds in southwestern Pueblo (with little, if any, elevation gain). Sensible shoes are suggested.

TOP LEFT Creede Guardamondo hangs on Angel Face during the bareback rodeo event. Guardamondo, from Avondale, managed an eight-second ride but placed fifth in the event. TOP RIGHT Bull rider James Brown, with blue helmet, is braced by fellow cowboys as the bull rears up in chute. Brown, of Colorado Springs, was uninjured and awarded a re-ride. BOTTOM Drake Amundson, left, tapes his arm prior to competing in the bareback event. Amundson, of Wheatland, Wyoming, spent about 20 minutes prepping for what he hoped would be an eight-second ride. (Photos by Mike Sweeney, Special to The Colorado Sun)

LEFT Maylie MacLennan, left, and her brother Mace, of Byers, walk their well-dressed crossbred market lambs to the sheep barn. RIGHT Terry Kutcher, of Kingfisher, Oklahoma, readies his heavyweight team of draft horses, Boomer and Thunder, to compete in the draft pull. Kutcher won the event, his horses having successfully pulled a sled loaded with 11,500 pounds of weight. (Photos by Mike Sweeney, Special to The Colorado Sun)

And hydrate, too. Late summer temperatures in Pueblo frequently flirt with the century mark. (Highs this weekend are forecast in the upper 90s) Conversely, monsoon rains are as much a part of the State Fair as is the PRCA rodeo, with storms making two or three appearances during the fair’s 11-day run. The most savvy fairgoers, especially those visiting during late afternoon and evening hours, pack an umbrella.

TOP Desiree Hernandez, left, and her husband Isaac dash through an evening rain during the Colorado State Fair. The couple sought refuge in nearby Ag Palace. BOTTOM The 30-minute thunderstorm dropped nearly an inch of rain over the fairgrounds. (Photos by Mike Sweeney, Special to The Colorado Sun)

But there’s no shame in getting caught in a State Fair thunderstorm. In parts of Colorado, it’s considered a rite of passage.

Mike Sweeney is a photojournalist based in southern Colorado. He's a FAA certified drone pilot and will hike almost anywhere for a good photo.