Marias Fair kicks off this week

By Adele Stenson for the I-O
Marias Fair kicks off this week
GROOMING THE STEER — Gabrielle Drishinski clips her 4-H steer to prepare him for the Fed Beef Show at the Marias Fair on July 16. Photo courtesy of Dan Picard
   Marias Fair Fun Time begins officially for the public on July 16, and concludes on July 19.
   The fun (and the work) have already begun for 4-Hers preparing for the big event.  They have been working all year for the opportunity to exhibit and compete at the Marias Fair.
   This summer they have been busy attending clinics to hone their skills in everything from sewing to livestock fitting and handling, to horsemanship. Some of their Marias Fair events are even completed. The Fashion Revue judging and shooting sports tournaments are completed in advance of the Fair. They will receive their awards at the Fair though.Events for the 4-H youth kick off Wednesday morning, July 15, with the Rabbit Show at 8:30 a.m. The Cat Show will be at 11 .am., the Poultry show at 1:00 p.m., and the Sheep Show at 6:30 p.m. These shows are all open to the public, and there is no gate admission on Wednesday.
   In addition to shows, 4-Hers will start working the Food Booth, which will be open with a variety of dining options throughout the Fair. The food booth has breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus, including a daily special. This booth is a major fundraiser for the 4-H premium fund, and is staffed almost entirely by 4-H families.
   Amidst all the other activity, 4-H members will be interviewed and their projects judged on Wednesday. This process is not open to the public, but Thursday morning the Exhibit building will open at 10, and the public is invited to stop in anytime throughout the week to check out the projects on display. At the Exhibit Building, visitors will also find a wide selection of Silent Auction items available for bid, to benefit improvements at the Exhibit Building.
   Thursday is a big day for the youth with market livestock animals. The swine show begins at 7:30 a.m. and will run most of the morning. The fed beef show begins at 2:00 in the afternoon. The youth in these shows and the sheep show are judged on their showmanship, and their animals are judged on market conformation.
   Demonstrations and speeches begin on Thursday at 10 in the Senior Center. Watch for the schedule to be posted at the Exhibit Building and the Senior Center, if you’d like to stop in for a few minutes to hear 4-Hers share their knowledge about a wide variety of topics. This event is always informative and interesting, and the building is air conditioned!
   Friday features the horse show, which begins at 7:30 a.m., and will run until mid to late afternoon. Events range from western to English, trail, barrels and poles, ranch horse, colt to maturity, and green horse. Bring your lawn chair, so you can find a shady spot to enjoy the young horsemen and women.
   Saturday is Tough Enough to Wear Pink day. All day, the Fair Board will donate $1 of your gate entry to the Hi-Line Women Against Breast Cancer, if you wear pink. Everyone is encouraged to wear pink to show their support of this generous organization, and breast cancer victims everywhere.
   4-H events kick off Saturday with the dog show at 9 a.m. at the Seewald Barn, followed by the Fashion Revue at the Exhibit Building at noon. The round robin showmanship competition begins at 2:00 p.m. at the Seewald Barn, and the Livestock Sale begins at 4:00. At 7:30 p.m., the 4-H horse members will kick off the PRCA  rodeo with a Tough Enough to Wear Pink grand entry.
   Sunday is the final day for 4-Hers. Their events conclude with the awards ceremony Sunday at 2:00 at the Seewald Barn. The crowd gathered to celebrate their hard work and success will also be celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Montana 4-H Foundation with a birthday party, complete with cake and ice cream.  By about 4:00, all of the 4-H exhibits will be cleared out. So folks who are planning to enjoy the many events still happening at the rest of the Fair on Sunday should plan to visit the 4-H exhibits in the morning or early afternoon.
   While you’re checking out the Fair exhibits, you might take notice of some of the work that the 4-Hers have done to improve the Fairgrounds. 4-H clubs decorated garbage cans to be distributed throughout the 4-H area, so it is handy for everyone to throw away their garbage. The Marias Fair Board will judge the cans, and the best one will earn a pizza party for the club that designed it. Steven Hoffman has installed a new steer wash rack, to replace the old one that was falling apart, and Fair Board made sure that the water supply got upgraded at the same time. The Rockin 4-H Club organized a memorial garden  in front of the Open Beef Barn in memory of Brett Wanken. The Sandrockets 4-H Club has built new benches. The Blackfeet 4-Hers took down the old boards at the camper spaces. Shawn Skartved organized the re-painting of the pens in the pig barn. Although the improvements aren’t yet made, Krystal McDougall is raising money to re-roof and improve the Old Sheep Barn as well. Watch for her raffle, offering your choice of 3 different hand-made blankets. In addition, the various committees and the Fair Board have worked hard all year, and you will see many improvements at facilities throughout the fairgrounds. Several businesses and organizations have also supported this effort. Farm Bureau provided grant funding to help with the wash rack and sheep barn project this year, and the rabbit barn last year. It’s tough to maintain a facility that is used infrequently, but many people take pride in the Fair, and they are working together to make the grounds reflect that pride.