Head over heels

The Bonner County Fair and Rodeo kicks off this week at the Fairgrounds

By Cameron Rasmusson
Reader Staff

The Bonner County Fair is steeped in the lifeblood of the community.

For nearly 100 years, county residents have gathered at the fair to examine livestock, enjoy a little fun and appreciate the company of neighbors. From the first fair in 1927 to this year’s festivities, the event has captured something essential about the community, painting a portrait of resilience, self-sufficiency, cooperative spirit and good cheer.

Photo by Leigh Livingstone.

Photo by Leigh Livingstone.

“I think what I like is just the coming together of the community,” said fair manager Rhonda Livingstone. “We have five generations [of a family] here sometimes.”

The Bonner County Fair staff and volunteers are riding high after a successful 2015 season. Last year’s production was so on-point, the International Association of Fairs and Expositions named Bonner County Fair the supreme champion of competitive exhibits. It is the smallest fair to win the honor in the organization’s 125-year history. Livingstone credits her staff for the remarkable success.

“We have an awesome crew here, and all of them have been just busting themselves to get this going this year,” she said.

This year brought plenty of new challenges. Livingstone said that because of building repairs and other circumstances, the staff wasn’t able to start set up until around last week. Long hours and hard work soon readied the fairgrounds for its biggest event of the year. And careful planning shaped a lineup of events that honors the fair’s ingrained values while bringing plenty of new ideas to the table.

“We have lots of new, fun things this year,” said Livingstone. “Our theme this year is ‘farm gate to dinner plate,’ so we’re really honoring our agriculture community this year.”

According to Livingstone, one of this year’s innovations is setting aside each day to devote to a specific community issue. For instance, Tuesday is dedicated to suicide awareness and prevention. Thursday is committed to spreading the word about cystic fibrosis and will feature a a free show by country duo Branch and Dean, who are long-time fundraisers for research into the disease. Saturday, Aug. 13, is cancer awareness day.

“I like that we’re making people aware of health issues in the community,” Livingstone said.

The PRCA Rodeo this week kicks off fairground activity in spectacular fashion. As the highest-paying rodeo organization in the world with sanctioned events in 37 states and three Canadian provinces, the PRCA always attracts the best talent to fill out its ranks. Livingstone said the rodeo committee has done an exceptional job this year, with C5 Rodeo Company serving as stock contractor, Rowdy Barry and Ryan Manning as bullfighters, J.J. Harrison as barrelman, David Lewis and Blake West as pickup men and Al Parsons as announcer. Performances will be Friday, Aug. 5 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Aug. 6 at 7 p.m., with timed event slack on Saturday, Aug. 6, at 9 a.m.

The days from Aug. 9-13 are packed with exciting activities. The fair royalty crowning ceremony takes place 5 p.m. Tuesday, barrel racing starts 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Bashful Dan’s dance party starts around 8 p.m. Wednesday, the Little Folks Horse Show is 6:30 p.m. Thursday, the Challenge of Champions Tour Bull Riding begins 7:30 p.m. Friday and the ever-popular 4-H Market Animal Sale is 9 a.m. Saturday.

Everything comes to a smashing conclusion 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, with the Fair Demolition Derby. This year sees a new outlaw class and small car class added into the event, so expect plenty of variety as drivers crash and compete for big cash prizes.

Of course, that only scratches the surface of all the great events in line for the 2016 Bonner County Fair. For a more complete schedule, check the fairgrounds out online at www.bonnercountyfair.com, and be sure to pick up a fair guide for a full listing of attractions, entertainment and events. Chances are your head will spin from the sheer variety and choices in front of you.

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