Blaine County Fair Board Members Attend Convention


November 24, 2021

The Blaine County Fair Board attended the Rocky Mountain Association of Fairs Convention earlier this month and enjoyed the music of Sawyer Brown on November 11 during a Meet and Greet event. Back Row: Loren Skoyen, Shandel Fouts, Jon Harmon, and John Skoyen. Front Row: Lead Singer for Sawyer Brown, Mark Miller and Debbie Ramberg. Not Pictured: Dale Williams.

The 95th Annual Rocky Mountain Association of Fairs Convention was held at the Billings Hotel & Convention Center in Billings, Montana, on November 10-12. Several Blaine County Fair Board members attended, as did Tj Overcast, who was trying to secure some bookings for his musical talent. Another aspect of the gathering are competitions in which Blaine County won two awards.

The purpose of the Rocky Mountain Association of Fairs (RMAF) is to promote fairs and similar events throughout their membership area. They also provide a platform "to unite fairs and events with exceptional and unique entertainment for public enjoyment."

In partial fulfillment of that purpose, each November, the Board of Directors holds the RMAF convention where members come to "shop" for ideas and entertainment for their community events. Over the course of three days, participants attend meetings, workshops, vendor booths, and showcases. Some of these acts are presented live, others are video showcases, and still others are set up in various rooms. These selections feature entertainment groups, carnival options, comedy acts, midway attractions, musical talent, and educational opportunities.

One of the acts-available as a solo acoustic show, acoustic duo show, or high energy full band show-Tj Overcast brands himself as an Outlaw/Neo Traditional Country Singer from North Central Montana. Although first year acts aren't allowed a showcase, Overcast is hoping to go through the submission process and showcase next year.

For this year, RMAF members had the opportunity to listen to Overcast, who was set up in a room where people could stop by. He played a little for them and talked with them about the different configurations in which he performs so that they could determine whether any of those would be a fit for their fair or community event.

About his experience at the RMAF Convention, Overcast said: "We got one gig for sure and one that I am dealing with the folks on that I'm really hoping to get. There were several other fairs that showed a lot of interest. Some of the fairs and people may not need us this year, but we are trying to build relationships with them so they can remember us for the future. Over all, it was a great experience, and so far I am happy about the results."

At this 95th annual event, members also enjoyed themed meals. On Wednesday, November 10, to accompany Opening Ceremonies, a Western Buffet Dinner was served. Thursday's dinner carried a Star Trek theme, and attendees were invited to dress in Star Trek attire and to "boldly go where no fair has gone before." To close out the convention, Friday's dinner featured a Roaring 20's theme with diners encouraged to dress in Jazz Age attire.

Although the Blaine County representatives didn't wear themed costumes, they did wear their colored fair shirts and accessorized with what was made available by event organizers. For example, some of them wore feather boas and headbands for the Roaring 20s theme. "We make a big statement in our colored fair shirts," Fair Board Manager Debbie Ramberg commented.

Competitions are another facet of the gathering. RMAF members enter photographs taken of their events as well as their premium books-which essentially serve as a program for many fairs.

Crystal Klein, who was asked by Ramberg to be the official photographer for the Blaine County Fair, spent several days in August capturing people in the process of memory-making. According to Klein, "Photos are a great way to freeze time and be able to relive some of life's favorite moments."

One of her photographs featuring three young boys prepping their gear to ride steers before the Kids' Rodeo won second place at the Convention. When she learned of the award, Klein responded: "Thank you so much to Debbie for asking me to take photos. Not only did I have a great time, but learning that one of my photographs won second place has me floating on cloud nine! I feel so honored!"

An additional award went to the Blaine County Fair Board for their Premium Book, which captured first place. Produced by Tricia (Brabson) Kimmel of Kimmel Creations, the publication is filled with fair related information and sponsor ads.

According to Kimmel, the project involves collaboration from many individuals. Lindsey (Buhmann) Steyee builds the ads and designs the cover while the Blaine County Extension Office provides the premium information for the 4-H section, and Bonnie Ortner compiles the premium details for the Open Class section. Once Kimmel has all of the material that comprises the publication, she places the ads and lays out the book, piecing it together like an elaborate-sometimes complicated-puzzle.

When she learned of the award, Kimmel stated: "We absolutely love doing this project-it's one of my favorites-and I have been blessed with great support from all our fair board members, Extension Office staff like Julie Snedigar and Brenda Jones, Fair Board Manager Debbie Ramberg and her support staff, Bonnie Ortner, and let's not forget my fantastic ad designer, Lindsey Steyee. Most of all, thanks to the local businesses who support this project so loyally with their advertisements. We have a great group and a great fair! I'm so happy that Blaine County won this award!"

About her experience at the Convention, Ramberg said she enjoys all aspects of the event and couldn't name just one highlight. "I love it all. We usually have very good meals, and during or after our meals there are always showcases. After dinner, we travel together, strolling the hallways of the motel where all the vendors are set up in rooms, and watch them perform. We have made lots of great friends at these conventions."


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