Four nights of rodeo action were the big crowd-pleasers at this year's Ravalli County Fair, which wrapped up Saturday, September 4. Fair Manager Melissa Saville said that the grandstands were always completely full before 7 p.m. and she said that many people arrived over two hours early to get a seat.

Wednesday night was the increasingly popular Ranch Rodeo with teams of wranglers attempting such things as wild cow milking in the competition. Thursday was a huge night of bull-riding and saddle and bareback bronc riding. Tucked in among the major "high in the sky" bucking were the little kids, trying to hitch rides on sheep with several attempts of "mutton-busting." There were older kids on bucking mini-horses, too. Then, Friday and Saturday nights, premiere cowboys and cowgirls came to town for Northern Rodeo Association competition, with top points adding to their yearly NRA totals. With the grandstands full, the standing-room-only crowds at the edge of the rodeo arena were at least three-deep at times.

Other activities at the Ravalli County Fairgrounds in Hamilton saw increased attendance, too. Saville has estimated over a 50 percent increase in orders at many of the food booths and the long lines in the food court at dinnertime and later were proof of that.

The final numbers of the yearly extravaganza will be released in a few days, and the staff will looking at things that went well and things that can be improved. One of the main problems this year was manpower. Volunteers help make the fair happen and there was a shortage this year, a problem all non-profits in the valley have been having.

fair draft horses
Draft horses in afternoon rodeo action. (Steve Fullerton, Townsquare Media)

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