Seed Paintings, A Source Of Community & Pride

One of the most memorable things about the Richland County Fair and Rodeo is the beautiful and elaborate seed paintings or artistic backgrounds. Short of seeing them at the fair and, occasionally, in the odd business many do not know much about them.

The backgrounds are just a piece of an entry into the Agriculture, Community, and Horticulture department. It is the Community Booth Exhibits class. Participants are to decorate their community's booth. According to the 2022 fair book, the booths will be judged on the quality, number, and arraignment of the entered products. The material on the backgrounds must be 100% plant and natural resources grown or produced locally. Rocks, coal twigs, tree bark, and more are also acceptable. Everything must have its natural color. Nothing may be dyed. There are only four communities in the competition this year: Crane/Sidney, Fairview, Ridgelawn, and Savage. Winners can get anywhere from $20 to $100. Local businesses have even approached the community members after the fair to purchase the backgrounds.

The residents of Ridgelawn were the winners of the Class III Community Booth Exhibits last year. The winning background, three boards depicting the progress of farming in 100 years, made of beans, seeds, pine cones, and sticks, represented over 300 hours of more than 12 different people contributing their patience and skill. It has been purchased by Farm and Home on the corner of Main St. and 9th Ave.SE for use in their decorating. The ladies working on the Ridgelawn booth exhibit allowed me to talk with them about the backgrounds. The ladies were proud to tell me that one of their past year's backgrounds now resides at a grocery store in Bozeman, another at Helena Chemical, one at the MonDak Heritage Center, and another at South 40. Margaret Bradley said, "I do it because it has been a tradition of the fair all my life." The ladies of Ridgelawn began their current entry back in September and are swiftly on their way to the completion of another masterpiece.


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