State Fair

Buddy Johnson was involved with the Colorado State Fair here in Pueblo. From the time he had a band almost until his death, they were naturals for each other. Here are some of the most interesting images of him and the annual event.

This large 4’ x 8’ sign which is now in the Colorado State Fair Museum collection on the fair grounds in Pueblo, was hung at various places around the fair grounds where ever Buddy and The Colorado Rangers played for years. It was made by the KCSJ Art department, so it must have been made during the 1950’s or early 1960’s.

The Museum has a good array of images of Buddy, his band, the parades and the fair in general. The Colorado State Fair, a Pueblo institution, actually predates the State of Colorado by a number of years and is one of the longest running fairs and rodeos in the West. Pueblo had a fair before Custer made his last stand!

Probably a late 1940’s or early 1950’s photograph of the Colorado State Fair Parade on Main Street, Pueblo. The Colorado Rangers or just Buddy on Chubby were parade fixtures for decades. It was one parade that I don’t believe he ever MC’d, but was always in.

An early Colorado State Fair street dance probably from the 1940’s, possibly the early 1950’s. Notice the band is in funny hats.

1956 State Fair Parade down Main Street with Chubby and Princess Columbine on the back. Chubby seemed to sense when it was parade time.

Here Buddy playing bass and Roy Leatherman left on guitar and Russ Hayes on right with steel guitar, back up Don Durant of TV’s 'Johnny Ringo'. Buddy’s band played backup for numerous Colorado State Fair performers such as Rex Allen and Gene Autry. The Colorado Rangers were regulars in the performing area over the livestock chutes for the rodeos. I remember seeing Dad watching rodeo contestants and starting and stopping the band to match the rides.

Dad, Chubby and me on the back. Taken on Pueblo’s Main Street in front of the old post office building during a State Fair parade. I rode with Dad in many parades sometimes dressed as a Native American and sometimes as a cowboy.

Probably taken the same night at the Fair as the 'Johnny Ringo' photograph above. Left to right: Clyde Fugate, the Colorado State Fair Manager, Dad (with his bass), Roy Leatherman, and Russ Hayes. During these years our family lived at the fair grounds from early morning until late night rides back to Beulah with Chubby in tow in his horse trailer.

The 1967 Colorado State Fair parade with Dad riding a horse other than Chubby for some reason. Taken at 4th and Main when downtown Pueblo was thriving, before the mall. Buddy made personal appearances at Crews Beggs on the right and at various stores downtown during these years.

If Dad wasn’t in the parade, he was announcing it. For over twenty years he hosted the Colorado State Fair Mesa Junction Kid’s Day Parade, this one’s was in 1969.

This Kid’s Day photograph was from 1963. Notice the Channel 5 camera crew on the stage with I think Jack Reynolds on camera. In those days Channel 5 broadcast every parade and every day from the fair.

This color photograph of the Kid’s Day parade is from 1967. 

The Colorado Rangers were in the very first Fiesta Day Parade which travels down Northern Avenue. I think the Rangers were probably in the first 10 of these. Left to right: Buddy (drums), Red Fanning (piano), Paul Fanning (bass), in background is Mickey Micketa (saxophone) and Dave Yarberry (trumpet).

Buddy was also a member of the fast draw, precision shooting club 'The Frontier Peacemakers'. This image from 1967 shows them preparing in Midtown Shopping Center before the Colorado Fair Parade.

Buddy often MC’d the Peacemakers shows on the State Fair grounds. Here he stands next to Bob Monson a close friend. The Peacemakers would sometimes perform for youth groups and promote a message about gun safety.

Dressed for a Peacemaker’s show, here Buddy wears the black leather gun belt made by an admirer who was a custom saddle maker. Dad liked it so much he had him also make one for me which was just smaller.

Our family has always felt that the fair was just fun, an annual rite. In Dad’s time it was just as fun and crazy, here’s Dad during a rodeo performance when he and a number of others were encouraged to ride an elephant, Dad always the showman was happy to oblige and on the trunk no less!

johnjohnson@mac.com           © John Johnson 2019       All rights reserved.