Sterling Ranch hosts first 'Cowboy After Hours'

Event raises money for livestock auction at Douglas County Fair

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Sterling Ranch, a blossoming community west of Highlands Ranch, was built with Colorado's Western spirit in mind. Surrounded by rolling green hills, the first stage of the development has 20 acres of parks, trails and open space.

The founders of Sterling Ranch, both Colorado natives, want to preserve the Western way, which is why they advocate for Douglas County 4-H, an agriculture-focused youth program.

Before the Douglas County Fair Junior Livestock Auction on Aug. 2, Sterling Ranch hosted Cowboy After Hours, an event usually held at Schomp Automotive to raise money for the auction and its 4-H participants.

The group of 75 people, including business owners and elected officials, spent the early afternoon at the Sterling Center, the development's first commercial building. Wearing matching white shirts, they visited with one another before taking a bus to the fair in Castle Rock.

“What I'm so thrilled about is that we pool our funding and bid, much of the time, on young people who are not getting the big bids,” said Sterling Ranch Principal Diane Smethills. “It's been inspirational to see the kids, and their faces.”

Cowboy After Hours started nine years ago as a way to raise the bid levels for animals offered at the youth auction and include each child and their animal. The Northwest Douglas County Economic Development Corporation (NDCEDC) spearheads the event, alongside partners Sterling Ranch, Schomp Automotive and Highlands Ranch-based Clough Cattle Company.

Annually, Cowboy After Hours raises roughly $95,000. The livestock claimed are returned to their owners, allowing for twice the income. For many of the young people, the funds go toward college and life expenses.

“One of our folks stays the whole night to make sure that we buy from all of the kids,” said Amy Sherman, president of the NDCEDC. “Even the kids with chickens at midnight get some of our Cowboy After Hours.”

Sherman, who was raised in Castle Rock, remembers going to the fair as a child. Cowboy After Hours brought back a friendly sense of competition that had been missing, she said.

“I remember as a kid, banks bidding against each other at the sale.” Sherman said. “I feel like our group brought that fun back to the livestock sale.”

Smethills hopes that Cowboy After Hours has a found a new home at Sterling Ranch.

“I think it's something that our residents are going to really continue to embrace,” Smethills said. “They see that this is one of the wonderful things we can do in our community.”

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