Fair Managers Make Everything Tick
July 28, 2021 | View PDF
"My favorite part of the Fair are kids at the carnival having so much fun, the tourists coming into town and experiencing what they don't have in their communities, and of course, the food booths," states Jamie Larson, Richland County Fair and Rodeo manager.
Larson has spent the past 15 years coordinating the fair plus several grounds and building projects.
The Fair is a member of the Rocky Mountain Association of Fairs which enables fair managers, board members and County Commissioners to meet and hear the fair entertainment in person along with attending workshops. They work with an agent, Romeo Entertainment Agency to assist with the booking and routing of the concert. She is currently the president of the association. Past managers Kris Weltikol and Dolf Bosshard have also served as presidents of the association.
One of the toughest years was in 2013 when the main concert was cancelled due to a storm. "Montgomery Gentry was unfortunately unable to perform that night. It was a tough call to make," Larson said. Of course, 2020 was a year of COVID-19 and the fair was cancelled except the 4-H portion. The 4-H was able to complete their judging, exhibits and sale. "I was able to watch a large portion of the 4-H events and judging, which I really am never able to do because of time constraints during the Fair. It was a good experience for me," Larson stated.
"The Fair doesn't happen in one month; it is a year long process. When I first started in 2006, I was part-time and in 2010 when the Event Center was complete the position became a full-time job," Larson said.
"One of my favorite aspects of the Fair is the grass. It provides the perfect atmosphere for the Fair," she adds.
One of the highlights among the centennial merchandise is the Henry Golden Boy 22WMR Lever Action Rifle. 100 rifles have been purchased for the centennial and are available for purchase. High Caliber Sports did the research and assisted with the process and the engraving. Along with the rifle there are several other memorabilia items available for purchase at the Fair Office and MonDak Heritage Center.
Larson has decided to resign as Fair manager following the Fair this year. She has taken a position with Seitz Insurance Agency, Sidney.
Hospitality was a main focus for Kris Weltikol in her years as the fair manager from 1990-2006, not only for the residents and our neighbor, but also for the workers of the Fair.
Rita Steinbeisser, Sidney Health Center, would help Kris come up with physicians that carnival workers could contact for any health care needs they may need. A list of other services were compiled as well. Carnival workers, entertainment folks, rodeo folks all have the same needs that we do. The goal was to have them remember us for our hospitality and would stop back by on their way to other "gigs".
Kris and her staff were fortunate and were able to visit several other fairs, both in the area and out of the area. Using this time to see what could be used at our fair. "Ideas were always out there, we just needed to scale them to our needs," she remembers.
The Richland County Fair and Rodeo is a member of the Rocky Montana Association of Fairs, which holds annual conventions for people to meet and explore entertainment ideas for their upcoming fairs. One of the things she really enjoyed was showing off the talents of our area.
One of the conventions sticks out in her memory. Bill Chiesa, with the Montana Fair, Billings, met Kris as she came into the motel, yelling, "Hey Sidney, look what we did!. He then showed her pictures of all the new buildings that had been put up at the Montana Fair. Kris responded with, "Well, Bill if someone gave us six million dollars we could do that too, plus some. BUT....(whipping out Community Seed pictures from that year's fair) can you get this done?" It was always great to show the community support and pride all the residents of Richland County have!