It’s hard to believe that the Montana Winter Fair has been around for 67 years and I just attended it for the first time!
The Montana Winter Fair began in Bozeman and has been in Lewistown since 2003. I asked one of the organizers what the primary event was and she said there were many, many events. I had to experience the fair to understand just how many activities they did have.
The drive to Lewistown was beautiful – blue skies, a few clouds and not much breeze. There was very little snow on the ground, just some in coulees and ditches. I managed to get several scenic photos on MT Hwy 80 and 81 so my arrival in Lewistown was delayed a bit for the sake of getting some nice images.
The Central Montana Fairgrounds has several entrances off US Hwy 191 and I wasn’t sure which one to take. It turned out that it didn’t make much difference as most of the turns all ended up at different MT Winter Fair events.
My first stop was the pavilion where the stick horse competition was underway. I don’t think I’d ever seen anyone ride a stick horse that fast until the contestants came zooming by. In hindsight, I should have had my camera on “sports mode” because most of my photos were blurry. The kids looked like they were having fun and they all received a prize for entering the competition.
Next I went to Old McDonald’s Barn and looked at the animals. I wish I would have had my granddaughters with me because they would have enjoyed this. Llamas, alpacas (and a couple of scarves woven from their fur donations), cows, bulls, goats, turkeys, miniature horses and more were in pens so you could get up close and view them.
Since I wasn’t familiar with the fairgrounds I wandered around some looking for the Trade Center. I finally asked someone where it was, got directions, and off I went to see the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics.
I recognized Art Taft from KRTV right away and decided I’d be sure to get a photo of him taking the chilly plunge. Well, Art outsmarted us all and volunteered for the emcee duties, not the water fun. I would call him a chicken but, there were “plungers” dressed up as chickens! And, a couple were in polar bear attire (white furry outfits). Several Special Olympians lit the torch and the plunging began. Everyone had fun and it was a good benefit for Special Olympics.
Other Montana Winter Fair events included the Cupcake Combat (oh yeah, Central Montana is ready for the Food Network), vendor displays, food concessions for sale (yummy), Pinewood Derby races, fiddle contest, cinnamon roll contest, chili cook-off, photography show, fiber arts and quilt show, home brew contest, stock dog trials, youth feeder steer/all breeds heifer show, team sorting, evening music concert and cowboy church.
I didn’t get to all of the events but I gave it a good effort!
One thing that impressed me is how the Montana Winter Fair spread events through the Lewistown community. Events took place at the Central Montana Fairgrounds, Brooks Market, Lewistown Art Center, the Eagles and Spotted Horse Gallery.
I’m not sure if I could pick a favorite event but I spent the most time at the Lewistown Art Center downtown looking at the fiber arts, quilts and weavers, spinners, knitters and felters. They had beautiful fiber art and I was mesmerized by the spinning.
All told, the Montana Winter Fair is a wonderful tribute to agriculture – the root of our ecomony in Central Montana. The one day I spent at this multi-day event was fabulous and I’ll definitely plan on attending next year’s Montana Winter Fair in Lewistown.