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All’s fair in Lake County

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RONAN – Expanded grounds and a bigger slate of events will greet people who come out for some good old-fashioned fun at the Lake County Fair and Pioneer Days this week. 

Fair Manager Tim Marchant and his staff have been hard at work for the past month setting up the Lake County Fairgrounds, and say everything is ready to roll. 

“It’s going to be the traditional fair that we always have,” Marchant said. 

Where some fairs have become more modern, with mechanical rides and other technological attractions, the Lake County Fair has remained a virtually untouched piece of rural America in its 80-year history. You won’t find Ferris wheels or spinning bears, but you will find scores of kids and animals tucked into the same stock barns their grandparents anxiously showed livestock in generations before. Judges will taste delectable foods and scrutinize the abilities of farm dogs put through obstacle courses. 

“It’s so wholesome,” Fairgrounds Crew Member Connie Trudeau said. “It’s like a slice of America. It is. It’s not like when you go to other fairs in Missoula where it’s all carnival. This is small-town, family-oriented and it kind of gives you goose bumps.” 

The week kicked off with shooting sports last weekend and led into 4-H events on Monday and Tuesday. The week will culminate for 4-H students on Thursday night, when the livestock sale begins at 7 p.m. For those not showing a furry friend, the fair promises plenty of fun and games. 

New this year is the Meat Me in Montana Barbecue Cook Off which will begin Friday and end Saturday afternoon. The finger-licking competition will benefit the Boys and Girls Club of the Flathead Reservation and Lake County. 

This year will also be the first year people can play bingo every night. 

“Bingo is going to be really cool, and we’re going to have a lot of it and it’s going to be really fun. We want everyone to come,” Fair Board Chairwoman Sjaan Vincent said. “Last year we had a teeny tiny test drive and it went great. It’s a great community activity.There is room for the little kids, the middle kids and the adults, plus prizes for kids and cash prizes for adults. 

“It just brings in a whole new dynamic,” Vincent said.

Recently acquired properties will give people space to park trailers and give children a place to warm up for their events. 

“It’s a huge improvement for safety,” Vincent said. 

She expects the entire week to be packed with happiness. 

“This is about agriculture and about the kids,” Vincent said. “This is one of the last places you can teach about agriculture and we are really hands on. It’s great to see the kids come in from the city and be able to pet the bunnies and touch the cows.” 

Beginning Friday, Pioneer Days overlaps the fair with rodeos, a parade and other related community events.

 Wednesday, July 30

8:30 a.m. Judges Orientation

9 a.m. – noon Perishable Open Class Check-in

9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Swine Showmanship and Judging

3:30 p.m. Cat Show

5 p.m. Open Class Judges Orientation

5 p.m. Beef Showmanship

5 p.m. Lions Club Games

5 p.m. – 8 p.m. 4-H Family Style Dinner

5 p.m. – 8 p.m. Music – Little Big Band

6:00 p.m. – 9 p.m. Open Class Judging

7 p.m. Market Beef Judging


Thursday, July 31

8:30 a.m. Judges Orientation

9 a.m. Sheep Showmanship

10 a.m. Quilt Show

11:00 a.m. Market Sheep Judging

11:00 a.m. Market Goat Judging

12:30 p.m. Goat Showmanship and Judging

2:00 p.m. Dairy Showmanship and Judging

2:30 p.m. Poultry Showmanship and Judging

5 p.m. Fashion Revue

5:30 p.m. Buyer’s Recognition Dinner

5:30 p.m. Music – Mega Karma

5:30 p.m. Small Fry Stock zhow

7 p.m. Market Livestock Sale


Friday, Aug. 1

8 a.m. Kid’s Fishing Derby

8:30 a.m. Judges Orientation

9 a.m. Sheep Breeding

9 a.m. Beef Breeding

10 a.m. Quilt Show

11:30 a.m. Rabbit Showmanship and Judging

3 p.m. Large Animal Round Robin

5 p.m. Happy Hour with Pioneer Days

7 p.m. BBQ Smoke-off

5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. 4-H/Open Class Talent Show.

7:30 p.m. Pioneer Days Bulls and Broncs Rodeo

9 p.m. – 11 p.m. 4-H Ambassadors’ Dance

9 p.m. - 1:30 a.m. Street Dances: 

Free ID-Required dance at KD's Valley Club featuring "Wild Coyote"

Free family-friendly dance in front of Pheasant Lounge and 2nd Chance Saloon featuring "Last Chance"


Saturday, Aug. 2

7 a.m. VFW Pancake Breakfast

8 a.m. 3-on-3 “JAM”boree

8 a.m. Mission Mountain Classic Run

9 a.m. Ronan Airport Open House

9 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. 4-H/Open Dog Rally and Agility

9 a.m. Pioneer Days Co-ed Softball

9 a.m. Pioneer Days 3 on 3 Basketball

9 a.m.  – 3 p.m. Pioneer Days Volleyball

10 a.m. Quilt Show

10 a.m. Car Show

11 a.m. Kiddie Slicker Rodeo Sign-ups 

Noon Kiddie Slicker/ City Slicker Rodeo

3:30 p.m. Small Animal Round Robin

3 p.m. – 7 p.m. Boys and Girls Club: Meat Me in Montana Smoke Off

7:30 p.m. Pioneer Days Open Rodeo and Ring of Fire

9 p.m. - 1:30 a.m. Street Dances:

Free ID-Required dance at KD's Valley Club featuring "Out of Bail"


Free family-friendly dance in front of Pheasant Lounge and 2nd Chance Saloon featuring "Six Strings & Pearls"


Sunday, Aug. 3

8:30 a.m. All Exhibits May Leave the Grounds

9 a.m. Volleyball Tourney

8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. 4-H Stall & Cage Cleaning

12:30 p.m. Pioneer Days Parade

3 p.m. Pioneer Days Open Rodeo and Wild Buffalo Ride

6:30 p.m. Family Karaoke Night, KD's Valley Club – all ages welcome


Monday, Aug. 4

8 a.m. – 5 p.m. 4-H Stall Cleaning


Tuesday, Aug. 5

8 a.m. – 5 p.m. 4-H Stall Cleaning

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