Roberta Smith of Trout Creek has been on the all-volunteer Sanders County Fair Board for most of the past 18 years. One big reason is this: she loves fairs.
Smith has been around county fairs all her life. As a youth, she was active in 4-H at the Flathead County Fair in Kalispell. Her kids carried on that tradition for the next generation here in Sanders County. And, having attended fairs all around the northwest, Sanders County is her favorite.
“I love meeting people there, watching all the events. I even get to spend my birthday there every year,” she says
Over the decades, Smith has enjoyed watching and helping the fair grow. One example is the rodeo, for which the fair has contracted with Powder River Rodeo Company. This company brings and tends the livestock and works with PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) and WBA (Women’s Barrel Association) to bring high-end riders, some of whom are National Finals Rodeo (NFR) qualifiers. Chris McGuigan, the fair manager, has received awards, Smith says, for “best footing” for barrel racers, an honor that takes a lot of surface work to achieve. Nationally-known rodeo announcer Bob Tallman has been another addition.
“I like being around rodeo people,” says Smith. “Rodeo people stop and help each other out.”
SMITH LIKES working as a team with the other board members and the fair manager, who bring a diverse set of skills. The board functions similarly to a school or park or fire department board, Smith says. They meet once a month, to advise and help the fair manager meet needs for such things as maintenance and improvements, additions or removals from the physical grounds, vendors, contractors, and concessions, within the budget.
“We always try to adapt to benefit the patrons of the fair,” says Smith. “We want to satisfy them so they come back.” Smith has heard lots of great feedback over the years, and says people especially appreciate the green grass, as most fairgrounds are dirt surfaces and very dusty, and that there is no gate fee.
Randy Woods, mayor of Hot Springs, has served on the board since late last year. Due to recent turnover, there are three positions on the five-person board currently needing to be filled: one opening for the Plains/Dixon area, and two openings for the Thompson Falls/Trout Creek/Noxon/Heron area to ensure a cross-section of the county is represented. Interested county residents can apply to the Sanders County Commissioners.