A Word From The County Fair Commission


Creating desired results in challenging times was the opening for the 89th Rocky Mountain Fair Convention held Nov. 13-15.

At present there are 111 fairs in this association and 168 service members. For those of you who are not familiar, this is one of the venues where fair board members and managers attend to preview and visit with individual service members who showcase their acts, music and carnivals in hopes that fairs will book them for their upcoming fair season.

So for those reading this can get a good picture, this particular convention was held at the Great Falls Heritage Inn in Great Falls. The service members set up their entertainment and information in their rooms and fair representatives went room to room and visited. They were seeking out entertainment and acts, as well as carnivals that will meet their community's demand and desires on the allotted budget each fair has.

Along with the room previews during each meal, there is allotted time for three to four showcases to actually put on a 10-15 minute segment of their show for fairs to actually see what they provide. The challenges that fairs are faced with is there are only a few carnivals around, due to cost and expense. And folks, reality is that most carnivals can and will set up in a Walmart parking lot for a weekend and make more money, than they could coming up on the Northeast Montana Hi-Line or going to small rural communities. No matter what state you are in, it's the same scenario.

Other challenges are that your acts and entertainment all start at around $850-900 a day, plus mileage and motel. But let me tell you, that the county fair representatives' desire to meet our customers entertainment wishes rises when networking and creativity with other fairs to share and route acts and carnivals and entertainment.

This working relationship is something that has been fostered over many years with desire and commitment to keep county fairs alive. As Gwen Cornwell wrote in her article last week, you have to change how you look at things because it may not be what it used to be. But it will be a memory maker for all that contribute or attend. With that said, the fair commission and their staff have the challenge to keeping up with times, trends and safety because of all the laws, rules and happenings of the world in entertainment and public access. As a board member or staff person you have to be engaged to outside happenings.

The visiting of the service member rooms was from 4-6 p.m., and then again from 9:30-11 p.m. each day. This occurred after fair representatives attended workshops from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. over a period of three days.

The workshops that were offered at this 2014 convention were trends, ideas and concerns in food, scheduling your stage, creative process for strategic planning, branding and marketing with networking, economical planning for small fairs, banking, weather, protocol for livestock events, managing stress, booking the right entertainment, building high-functioning fair boards, sponsorships, creative thinking, maintenance and operations, rising cost of operating fairs, face book, concert cancellations, grand champion exhibits, workers, rodeo trends and issues, fair grounds beautification, preparing for the unexpected emergency/disaster, entertainment booking, livestock diseases - are you doing enough and concealed weapons at your fairs.

For those of us from Valley County who attended these workshops, the challenge will be to bring the information back and share with the community what was learned, and have those that assist in events to have the same desire to listen and change some process to have our county fair sustain and continue to be one of the safest and best events to attend in Northeast Montana.

Prior to attending the workshops, the fair board members and their managers attended their district meetings. There are four districts in the Rocky Mountain Fair Association. Glasgow is in the Northeast district.

The fairs in this district are Blaine County, Carter County Fair, Central Montana Fair, Chouteau County Fair, Daniels County Fair, Dawson County Fair, Eastern Montana Fair, Fallon County Fair, Great Northern Fair, Lethbridge Expo, Lloydminster Ag Expo, Marias Fair, McKenzie Fair, Medicine Hat Expo, Montana Fair, Montana State Fair, NILE, ND State Fair, Park County Fair, Phillips County Fair, Prairie County Fair, Prince Albert Exhibition, Red River Valley Fair, Richland County Fair, Roosevelt County Fair, Rosebud/Treasure County Fair, Saskatoon Exhibition, Sheridan County Fair in Montana, Upper Missouri Valley Fair, Vegreville Expo and the Wibaux County Fair.

With the challenge of trying to find a center of location to get these fairs together in the spring to have a district meeting, the Valley County Fair Chairman Smiley Johnson has offered the location of Glasgow and the groups desire prevailed – Glasgow it is. It is possible this was because we’d shown such a great time a few years back when Glasgow hosted this very same meeting.

Another discussion in the district meeting was on location of the Rocky Mountain Association Convention in the upcoming years. The 2015 convention will be in Layton, Utah; 2016 in Spokane; 2017 in Colorado Springs; and 2018 in Billings.

The concerns of these meetings are from the rural fairs in Montana. The Rocky Mountain Association started in Montana. It's possible that it is time to revisit the goals and missions that were first set.

Another topic of discussion was fair awards. Again, there were questions about what the goal and purpose of the awards being presented and nominated for. Folks, I can attest that Northeast Montana may be seen as rural and smaller in fair size compared to others, but the perseverance in our hearts still provides us the desire to speak up in challenging times.

At the Friday luncheon, Marla Calico with the IAFE (International Association of Fairs) gave the keynote talk titled, “We’re All in This Together.” This includes fairs of all sizes, service members of every category, exhibitors, attendees, fair commissions/managers, county commissioners, volunteers, workers and community involvement. To have a sustainable and thriving fair it takes 100 percent and more. So mark your calendar for the 2015 Northeast Montana Fair Aug. 1-4. Watch for articles and news to see how you can participate.

Check out the Valley County website, where you can read the Fair Commission minutes each month. Readers can see meeting dates and the agenda of the fair commission so that you can attend the meetings or provide feedback. Notice of meetings will also be posted on the KLTZ news, and the local Glasgow Courier and the Buzz new releases.

As we close this Thanksgiving season, we’d like to share, on behalf of the Northeast Montana Fair Commission, to all of those who volunteered, exhibited or attended during events this past year at the fairgrounds, thank you for another season, and may your Holidays be filled with joy and many blessings.

Fair Manager Doris Ozark.

Fair Chairman Smiley Johnson

Fair Commissioners Bob Hanson, Jerry Arnold, Adam Powell

and Gene Hartsock


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