Asher on Aspen: You’re Gonna Miss This

Shannon Asher
Asher on Aspen
Trace Adkins at the Garfield County Fair.
Kyle Mills

A black Cadillac Escalade pulled around the corner and zipped up next to my black Ford Focus. Apparently, that was my ride. I crawled into the back of an already over-stuffed car while someone generously offered me a welcome beer. It was 5 p.m. on a Friday and the party mode button had officially been switched on.

It was about a 90-minute drive down to Rifle but thanks to funny friends that kept us laughing — and the new Tyler Childers album that dropped that day — we were easily kept occupied. Why did nine Aspen residents drive all the way down to Rifle, you may be wondering? For the Garfield County Fair & Rodeo, of course! The main highlight of the weekend is the country concert headliner, and this year Trace Adkins and Joe Nichols were set to take the stage.

I think it’s important to understand that there are two types of concert-goers in this world: the people who are perfectly satisfied sitting in the back and listening to the music from afar, and the people who feel the need to be front row and/or backstage with the artists. I, for one, am the latter of the two. Something consumes me and I turn into Penny Lane from “Almost Famous.” I feel this need to be up close and personal with the musicians. I don’t know what it is, I’ve just always been this way.

Luckily, I was with a few girlfriends who supported my mission to meet Joe Nichols. After some chatting with the merchandise guy and a few purchased “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off” T-shirts, we somehow managed to get in line for the meet-and-greet. I shimmied my way backstage with pride and glee. Upon drawing near the country music star, I got bashful and suddenly couldn’t form words. Instead of complimenting his performance or telling him that I’m a big fan, I told him that he smelled good. So, there’s that.

Next up, Trace Adkins! We went back to the peasant seats in the bleachers and jammed along to “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” and “Ladies Love Country Boys” with all of our friends. Being from Iowa, I secretly thrive in this low-key, small-town atmosphere. Did I have a tiny desire to sneak down to the stage to be in the front row? Of course. Thankfully, my self-diagnosed FOMO reeled me back in and kept me grounded. There was no way I was missing that group photo.

He started singing one of his hits, “You’re Gonna Miss This,” and everyone seemed to freeze with their thoughts for a brief moment. A good friend of ours who has since passed came with us on the venture to Rifle the year before. Without saying anything out loud, it became a moment within our friend group to reminisce and remember our lovely friend Sam.

“You’re gonna miss this. You’re gonna want this back. You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast. These are some good times. So, take a good look around. You may not know this now, but you’re gonna miss this.”

With eyes welling up around me, these lyrics were a callous reminder of the fact that our friend couldn’t be there with us that day. Knowing Sam, he would have been right there with us in line trying to meet Joe Nichols. We all laughed about how easily we could spot him last year with his ten-gallon hat that he wore proudly all night long.

The melancholy moment subsided, and Adkins quickly picked it back up with another timeless tune that everyone knew the words to. Hot dogs, funnel cakes and all the greasy foods that accompany carnivals were being passed around. After the show, everyone was eager to cruise back out to the fairgrounds to really soak in the summer carnival vibe.

It didn’t dawn on me until after I bought 30 ride tickets that I wasn’t actually that big of a carnival ride person. I rode the Ferris wheel and that was enough for me. A couple friends thought it’d be fun to ride the dizzy swings — just picture that scene from “The Sandlot.” I opted out and tried to win a stuffed animal instead. Christopher won a penguin and I named him Gregory.

After two years attending this county fair, I certainly hope it turns into a long-lasting tradition. Not only is the fair a really good time, but I also think Sam would have loved to hear that we all went down to Rifle’s annual country-music haven. And even though it’s a 7-year-old song, Adkins’ lyrics still prove true today, reminding us to relish in the moment that you’re in and enjoy every second because life is too short to do anything else.