State Fair

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

This large 8’ x 4’ sign now hangs in the Colorado State Fair Museum on the fairgrounds in Pueblo. It was hung at various places around the fairgrounds for years, wherever Buddy and the Colorado Rangers played. It was made by the KCSJ art department, during the 1950s.

The Museum has an 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 many years and is one of the longest running fairs and rodeos in the West. Pueblo had the fair a number of years before Custer made his last stand!

08-02 Band 1940's Fair parade

A late 1940s photograph of the Colorado State Fair Parade on Main Street, Pueblo. The Colorado Rangers, or just Buddy on Chubby, were parade fixtures for decades. The State Fair Parade was the one parade that he never emceed, but he always participated.

08-03 Band 1940's Pueblo street dance

An early Colorado State Fair street dance from the 1940s or the early 1950s. Notice the band is in funny hats.

The band, outside the fair’s Agriculture Palace before a dance, probably from the mid 1950s. Left to right, Roy Leatherman, Anita Feldman, Buddy, Duke Farrin, and Red Fanning. Kneeling are Chet Lee Calcote and Russ Hayes.

08-04 CSF 1956 Buddy, Columbine & Chubby State Fair Parade

The 1956 State Fair Parade down Pueblo’s Main Street. Buddy and Chubby with Princess Columbine riding double. Chubby seemed to sense when it was parade time.

08-05 CSF 1959 Band & Johnny Ringo

Here, Buddy is playing bass. Roy Leatherman on the left, is on guitar with Russ Hayes on the right with steel guitar, back up Don Durant of NBC 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, 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 sometime dressed as a Native American and sometime as a cowboy.

08-07 CSF 1964 Band & Clyde Fugate

This shot was probably taken the same night at the Fair as the Johnny Ringo photograph above. Left to right: Clyde Fugate, the Colorado State Fair Manager; Buddy; Roy Leatherman; and Russ Hayes. During these years our family practically lived at the fair grounds. We were there from early morning until the late night rides back to Beulah with Chubby in tow, in his horse trailer.

08-08 1967 Buddy horse parade CLR

The 1967 Colorado State Fair parade with Buddy riding a horse other than Chubby. Taken at 4th and Main, when downtown Pueblo was thriving. The mall came in 1976 and affected downtown businesses forever. Buddy made personal appearances at Crews Beggs on the right and at most of the 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 “Kids' Day Parade." This one was in 1969.

08-10 CSF 1963 Buddy Kids Day Parade

This Kids’ Day photograph was from 1963.

Notice the Channel 5 camera crew on stage with Jack Reynolds on camera. In those days, Channel 5 broadcast every parade “Live." Every day, they broadcast the news shows from the fair late into the evenings.

08-11 CSF 1967 Buddy Kids Parade CLR

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

08-12 Band 1967 Fiesta Day parade

The Colorado Rangers at the very first Fiesta Day Parade which traveled down Northern Avenue. I think the Rangers were probably in the first ten events. Left to right, Buddy (drums/vocals), Red Fanning (piano), and Paul Fanning (bass). In the background is Mickey Miketa (saxophone) and Dave Yarberry (trumpet).

08-13 1967 Buddy Frontier Peacemakers float

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

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

08-15 1967 Buddy Frontier Peacemaker outfit

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 the man also make one for me.

08-16 CSF Buddy & people on elephant

Our family has always felt that the fair was just fun, an annual rite of summer. In Buddy’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. Buddy, always the showman, was happy to oblige, and on the trunk no less!

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