The Agenda with the Missoula County Commissioners

Western Montana Fair: Where Community Happens

July 28, 2023 Missoula County Commissioners Season 3 Episode 13
Western Montana Fair: Where Community Happens
The Agenda with the Missoula County Commissioners
More Info
The Agenda with the Missoula County Commissioners
Western Montana Fair: Where Community Happens
Jul 28, 2023 Season 3 Episode 13
Missoula County Commissioners

The Western Montana Fair is more than just rides and fried food. The Missoula County Fairgrounds is one of the few public gathering places that unites people from all backgrounds every summer. 

This week, the commissioners spoke to Jerry Marks, the county extension agent, and Billie Ayers, events and operations manager at the fairgrounds, about the history of this hallmark event and what’s in store for the 2023 Western Montana Fair.

Thank you to Missoula's Community Media Resource for podcast recording support!

Show Notes Transcript

The Western Montana Fair is more than just rides and fried food. The Missoula County Fairgrounds is one of the few public gathering places that unites people from all backgrounds every summer. 

This week, the commissioners spoke to Jerry Marks, the county extension agent, and Billie Ayers, events and operations manager at the fairgrounds, about the history of this hallmark event and what’s in store for the 2023 Western Montana Fair.

Thank you to Missoula's Community Media Resource for podcast recording support!

Juanita Vero: [00:00:10] Welcome back to the tip of the spear with your Missoula county commissioners. I'm Juanita Vero joined by my fellow commissioner, Josh Slotnick. And commissioner Dave Strohmaier can't be with us today, but summer is here and we know that means the Western Montana Fair is just around the corner. And today we're joined by our two fellow employees, Jerry Marks and Billy Ayers, to talk about this hallmark event. Jerry, Billy, introduce yourselves and learn a bit about who you are and what you do and actually what's your correct title, because folks would want to know that, too.


Josh Slotnick: [00:00:42] Is it, Sir? Jerry Marks,


Juanita Vero: [00:00:43] Sir Jerry Marks... I think it is.


Josh Slotnick: [00:00:45] I think Dave knighted him last year.


Jerry Marks: [00:00:47] Yes, he did something like that. Yes. I'm Jerry Marks. I've been here since 1969 at the county extension office And see what is that, about 53, 54 fairs I've been into. Wow. So so it has been a bunch of them. And actually over my career, I have done all kinds of programs and working with the people. I have a strong belief in helping the people build programs. I'm kind of driven from the ground up, I guess.


Billie Ayers: [00:01:15] I'm Billie Ayers. I'm the events and operations manager for the Missoula County Fairgrounds, so I'm basically your county party planner.


Josh Slotnick: [00:01:23] So, Jerry, do you mind taking us back across some of those 50 odd fairs and talk a little bit about the history of the event? How has it changed? How how do we get to where we are now?


Jerry Marks: [00:01:33] Well, actually, I was going to take you back much farther than that.


Josh Slotnick: [00:01:37] That's all right. You can do that, sir.


Jerry Marks: [00:01:40] And this is maybe a couple thousand years, but fairs are really kind of a social intercourse and they have evolved over time. I'm going to give credit to the early traders like Marco Polo, who traveling to other countries to exchange things in that kind of set a stage for commodities that people could buy and sell with Christianity coming. Then they got into the food. And so that became more social, more, more special days. That's where the term bazaars come from, is that kind of background that they had in those days. And there's there isn't really a clear history of how things evolved. So you kind of look through a lot of things. And and certainly the church used the fairs as a place on their holy days to bring people together to do things in the in the people. Also use it as a way to trade products, sell products, that type of thing. As it moved to Europe, the tone changed in agriculture become a little more important in in that process. In 1765, the first American Fair was presented in Windsor, Nova Scotia. They still hold that fair. To this day. Agriculture has become much more of a player in the fair concept as people wanted new ideas, new equipment, whatever. And part of this is driven by the unhappiness over slavery, other things that we did that thought we ought to find better ways of doing things. The fair was one way to communicate with people and bring that about in this country. What I found there was an elk and Watson organized what they called the Berkshire Agricultural Society in 1811. He organized a cattle fair. They also had swine, horses, oxen was another one they had. 


Juanita Vero: [00:03:38] What year was this?


Jerry Marks: [00:03:39] And that was in 1811.


Juanita Vero: [00:03:41] Where?


Jerry Marks: [00:03:41] Pittsfield, Massachusetts. That's where that first one was. And there was quite a movement across the country to organize these agricultural societies. Our early presidents had a lot of interest in more of an agrarian society, a better way of doing things fair. So I guess is one way for the local people to express that or to do it. Certainly this fellow Watson is considered the father of agriculture fairs and he come up with the competition and premiums or prizes for the winners. And so that's something we carry on to this today. So I've kind of covered three things that I think is probably important. One, fairs in terms of people with commodities where they can buy and sell a place where you can say try foods. And certainly it's evolved to many nonprofit groups and maybe a few profit groups to try things at the fair. And then certainly for people that are raising animals, but also things that they put together there, sewing, cooking, all that become part of the fair concept.


Juanita Vero: [00:04:52] When was the first fair in Montana?


Jerry Marks: [00:04:54] I don't know Montana, but I can say the first one in Missoula was 1879.


Josh Slotnick: [00:05:02] The first Missoula County fair was 1879.


Juanita Vero: [00:05:05] We weren't even Missoula County was not...


Josh Slotnick: [00:05:07] Even a county, exactly right.


Jerry Marks: [00:05:08] Yeah, probably. You're probably. Right. They actually had about ten guys that kind of started pulling things together and they had a site close to the current fairgrounds. It's a little further south and I believe west of the current fairgrounds that they actually then put together buildings, horseracing and that type of thing.


Josh Slotnick: [00:05:27] Jerry, do you know when our current fairgrounds became our fairgrounds?


Jerry Marks: [00:05:31] Yes, I've got to cover that. Yes. That was an effort at the 1879 was our first fair. And they didn't have any fairs in some of those years in 1883 and whatever. But that ground was owned by a bank, but they sold it to Thomas Greenough. And so he wanted the ground for other things. And one of the things that went in there was a sugar beet plant which was built in 1928.


Juanita Vero: [00:05:58] The site of the first fair.


Jerry Marks: [00:06:00] I should skip... I'm skipping some things here. They moved it from the south actually out to that site west of Missoula.


Juanita Vero: [00:06:09] Oh, oh, okay.


Josh Slotnick: [00:06:10] So there were three sites.


Jerry Marks: [00:06:12] Yeah, there were three sites. So they had to find a new fairgrounds. So the current site then was under consideration. And I think one of the important things that happened to us in those days actually happened to all the counties. The Montana state legislature approved that the counties could fund things like fairs, and that didn't exist before that. It was always done through donations, still donations to a certain degree, but there was some way to get some tax revenue.


Juanita Vero: [00:06:42] And I'm sorry, what year was this again?


Josh Slotnick: [00:06:44] In 1883?


Jerry Marks: [00:06:46] That was 1911.


Juanita Vero: [00:06:48] When the legislature...


Josh Slotnick: [00:06:49] Says 1911 said we could use tax money to make a fair happen.


[00:06:53] Yes. So and I'm going to say, you had at least a couple of years of debate because we don't solve things very easy, that they finally approved the purchase of that existing ground where the fair is the 46 acres and I'm going to say 1913 for 16,000. And so that's what started where we are currently. And of course that started the whole process to build a horse race track. A building at that time was more for the ag exhibits what we call the commercial building now. And on a number of other buildings, they didn't have any fairs during World War One, and there was years during the Depression years that they didn't hold a fair wow. And and I know that created some problems for Four-h because they still wanted to do their fall-type activities. And I've come across literature where at least one of the years it was done down here at Caras Park and used the Elks Building to set up their displays, which I thought was interesting.


Josh Slotnick: [00:07:53] During the Depression, a few years when the county said, "We just don't have enough money to put on a fair."


Jerry Marks: [00:07:57] Yep, yep. Wow. The Kiwanis Club, their ag committee, played a big role in making that happen. There was something else that went on during the, I'm going to say war years, depression, years. I don't know exactly when it was built, but there was a lot of interest in developing a process. I think the process, the foods. So they put up a building on our fairgrounds and there was a lot of canning of local produce that went on there.


Juanita Vero: [00:08:24] When was the fire?


Jerry Marks: [00:08:24] In 1941 was the fire on the grandstands. It destroyed, I think, three buildings. They still completed their fair that year, but they didn't have any fair from 1942 to 1954.


Josh Slotnick: [00:08:37] 42 to 54. That's a long time.


Jerry Marks: [00:08:40] Yes, it was a long time.


Josh Slotnick: [00:08:41] Well, do you know what brought it back?


Jerry Marks: [00:08:43] I think the local people just says we got to have a fair the interest in fair. And this goes back to the local grown produce concept.


Juanita Vero: [00:08:53] Oh, it'd be great to read those...


Josh Slotnick: [00:08:56] I was thinking the minutes would be really cool.


Juanita Vero: [00:08:57] Yeah. Yeah.


Josh Slotnick: [00:08:58] Let's bring back the fair.


Jerry Marks: [00:08:59] Yes. Yes. And George Patterson was appointed the first manager of the fair. And then in 55, Katie Jordan was appointed the manager. And she lasted a long time. And that's who I remember working out there at the fairgrounds is Katie. She was very good with people and we actually did a lot of things. They've had the fair since that 1954 and they've had it every year since then.


Josh Slotnick: [00:09:24] So, Jerry, say when you started in 1969, 1970, in those early years for you, what was the fair like compared to how it is now? What was it like?


Jerry Marks: [00:09:34] It had very much interest in the exhibits that was popular. The shows were always full of people, brought in lots of livestock that we don't have today. We really don't have open class livestock like we used to. What's that mean? Well, generally fairs are made up of the youth part, which is 4H and FFA, and then the open class is anybody else. And it was usually the producers and we had more, I guess I'll say competition, more interest. As you got into the 70s, the beef industry kind of switched to what I'd call the exotics, which is more. Or the breeds that come out of Europe that they couldn't bring in because of hoof and mouth disease. And they got some of that corrected. So then we were seeing Semmental, Limousine, and Salers and and and Charolais and Chianina and, and so that added some. 


Juanita Vero: [00:10:26] Prior to that it was just Herefords?


Jerry Marks: [00:10:27] it was generally the three breeds with Angus, Herefords and Shorthorn.


Juanita Vero: [00:10:31] Oh, Shorthorn's a breed? Yeah. I didn't realize.


Josh Slotnick: [00:10:34] I didn't know that either.


Jerry Marks: [00:10:35] Yeah. And there was quite a few Shorthorn It was, it was really popular.


Josh Slotnick: [00:10:39] Back then was the, was the Merc very involved in the fair?


Jerry Marks: [00:10:42] Not not that I know of.


Josh Slotnick: [00:10:44] Okay. 


Juanita Vero: [00:10:45] You mean in the 50s, or...?


Josh Slotnick: [00:10:46] Yeah I was thinking in the 50s. 60s. Did they play a commercial role. I mean now we have, we have corporate sponsors now.


Jerry Marks: [00:10:53] And that's true. Another group that I should mention is the Missoula Trades and Labor Council, which is now our Chamber of Commerce. And they saw a real need for fairs to promote the local businessmen and products. And so there's years that they actually played a supportive role in making it happen. And you had a lot of groups that were basically put the fair together. You certainly have the Fair office and the Fair Board, but do you have for and but you also have lots of other groups that are doing things out there at the fairgrounds. And so that becomes important as well as the as a livestock breeds. And all those folks have their own associations that they're part of funding. The fair is always been a challenge and trying to make things work. And in the 90s the Fair Board, which was basically the main interest was was coming from the Chamber of Commerce that we need to have a sports center.


Josh Slotnick: [00:11:47] And sports center?


Jerry Marks: [00:11:48] A sports center.


Juanita Vero: [00:11:49] What kind of sports?


Jerry Marks: [00:11:50] They started out with ice, but they also wanted a bigger facility that we could have basketball tournaments and and those kinds of things that they have trouble with.


Josh Slotnick: [00:12:00] This was this before the Adam Center was a thing?


Jerry Marks: [00:12:03] No. And in fact, you make a good point there, because at least my exploration on trying to put those things together, there is not a good networking between the various interests on doing some of that stuff. I don't know how it is today, but that was a major thing. And I remember some meetings on that very, very issue of how can we do better and trying to promote those things. They this is in the mid 90s is they tore down a lot of the livestock stuff and put in the ice with the concept that the livestock could use the ice rink during the week of the fair and they weren't thinking other kinds of shows or whatever that actually can go on that really are part of the fairgrounds. We used to have a lot of horse activities out at the fairgrounds and that's been all kind of dissipated.


Josh Slotnick: [00:12:50] Juan, do you remember going to the fair as a little kid and then coming in from Greenough?


Juanita Vero: [00:12:53] Yeah, And but I was kind of because I was so rural, I was scared of the crowds and, and the and I didn't participate in 4H, but my mother did. That was a big part of her culture. And I guess my parents, you know, the rodeo was something that was a big deal to compete in that rodeo. I was just kind of scared of the people. There were so many people. And it was just that that kind of carnival atmosphere. But I was a pretty sheltered kid. So I have a different opinion of the fair as a kid. It wasn't what an ability is going to talk about. It is not what it feels like now. Like it was something that the bathrooms are kind of gross and everything was a little gross and a little rundown. And it it just didn't feel great. And now there is such a...


Josh Slotnick: [00:13:37] Pretty shiny now.


Juanita Vero: [00:13:38] ...New energy and like celebration that we feel now.


Jerry Marks: [00:13:44] You mentioned the bathrooms. That was controversial every year, I swear.


Speaker5: [00:13:48] Really?


Jerry Marks: [00:13:48] Yeah. Oh, yes. Yes. We didn't have the fair organized to where they kept things picked up better. It is totally different today. And I think the change that's kind of gone on at the fair. Well, getting back to the 90s and the glacier ice being built and initially they had the area that's closed. Now, there was some I'm going to say things that went pretty good. Well, then they wanted to cover that, make it enclosed and put the livestock at the at a new rink that's open in the floor that was slick as all get out. And so we went through quite a few gyrations and some of the management of the glacier ice just really thought that the livestock should go someplace else. And the livestock people thought the glacier ice should go someplace else. So there was a number of meetings and discussion on that issue. One of the things that come out of that, the county commissioners fired the fair Board.


Josh Slotnick: [00:14:45] Oh, the whole board.


Jerry Marks: [00:14:47] The whole board.


Josh Slotnick: [00:14:48] Wow. That must have been a thing.


Jerry Marks: [00:14:49] It was.


Josh Slotnick: [00:14:52] Wow.


Jerry Marks: [00:14:52] Yes, it made it made good. Good news.


Josh Slotnick: [00:14:55] Which commission was that? Do you remember? We're talking mid 90s.


Jerry Marks: [00:14:59] Well, it took several years, let me tell you. You're talking closer to 2000. Okay. So I'm going to say probably Jean Curtis, Bill Carey.


Josh Slotnick: [00:15:09] Okay. The fired the whole board.


Jerry Marks: [00:15:10] They fired the board.


Speaker5: [00:15:11] It was a bold move. Yeah.


Jerry Marks: [00:15:14] So then we went through. I'd been actually trying to build more of an educational facility, and the commissioners, you know, said, Well, we'll put you out at the fairgrounds. And I maybe somewhat naively said, Well, you better decide what you really want to do with the fairgrounds. And so we went through five, six years of at times heated debate over the use of the fairgrounds.


Josh Slotnick: [00:15:39] This is... We're talking early 2000 now.


Jerry Marks: [00:15:41] 2010 to 2000..., what, 15?


Juanita Vero: [00:15:44] I just love to see Jerry Marks heated.


Josh Slotnick: [00:15:46] I know. I know what that would be. It's a it's a gentle simmer. There's a gentle simmer. Yes.


Jerry Marks: [00:15:55] Because a lot of the groups that come out the chamber really come out with wanting a sports center out there. There was a group that wanted horse racing. There was a group that wanted to turn it into farmers markets. There was a group that wanted into family housing, a group that wanted more of an opera house. There were some meetings earlier about turning the fairgrounds into a central park, and so all that kind of go on very much Missoula very much unwilling to come together. They wanted their issue. And and so the commissioners finally reached a point and said it really we bought that fairgrounds for a fair and we have to have a fair. And so that's that's going to be our main choice. And so all those other entities lost out, I'll say it that way. And so we're actually kind of converting it into very much what I would say is an educational particular moving us out there.


Juanita Vero: [00:16:46] And when you say us, you mean the extension office.


Jerry Marks: [00:16:48] The extension office. We'd worked with a number of things on natural history. And so when the Butterfly house was looking for a home, that was one of the things that had come up several times. And I said, Well, we can work that in. And that becomes part of the educational effort of what we're doing as well as the gardens. And so I see things evolving towards the educational.


Juanita Vero: [00:17:10] Thing, which has come full circle, which is the true meaning of the fair that you talked about thousands of years ago.


Speaker5: [00:17:15] Yeah, that's really great.


Jerry Marks: [00:17:16] Full circle. Yeah, full circle. And the Fair Office will play a much, I'm going to say a kind of a stronger role there, kind of in the hub. It's kind of evolving that direction.


Josh Slotnick: [00:17:27] Great. Well, can we jump to the modern era? Yeah, Billie.


Billie Ayers: [00:17:32] Sure.


Josh Slotnick: [00:17:33] Bring us up to speed. What's going on at the fair right now?


Billie Ayers: [00:17:35] This year the fair is August 9th through the 13th, and we have named it in honor of the Rocky Mountain Gardens and Exploration Center. The theme is the butterfly effect from small things. Big things grow beautiful. There's some of the physical changes that you're going to see this year because we have been kind of fluid in the last couple of years with the renovations completed on the historic culinary building and the commercial building in 2019. The Plaza was finished in 2021. And now with the new entry arch that has gone up and the new extension office, we should be able to see the exterior of the extension office. During the fair, we have doubled the size of our activities for the fair. Now, with two zones of activities, we have the historic plaza which you might have been familiar with the last two years, and now we have Fairway Plaza, which then allows us to extend all the new food vendors, which we have upped to 30 food vendors all the way down to South Avenue. So with the fair being free admission, there is no reason why you're not eating 2 or 3 times a day at the fair. You can literally pull up on South Avenue, grab something and go right back out and you can bring different people with you each time you eat.


Billie Ayers: [00:18:40] We'll have a lot of activities seating, umbrellas, shading all down that corridor. Now between us and the extension office and down to South Avenue, we've got two bingo booths going this year because we have outgrown the one we had. It was just busting out the seams. So we're going to have extra tents with an outdoor bingo and then we have an indoor bingo there in the Home arts and culinary building. We have an arcade going in that building as well. An arcade? Yes. Yes. And then, of course, the carnival has already started showing up. That came and started bringing in pieces last night. And so we're getting ready to stage those things. So 11:00 each day we start the day with carnival rides and food. And then of course, the shows we have free live music starting from 5:00 and then picking up again at 9:00. And every night in the arena we have our events. We start out with the extreme bull riding on Wednesday, then we have PRCA Rodeo for Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and then on 6:00 on Sunday we have Lords of Dirt coming back.


Josh Slotnick: [00:19:37] Big, big crowd pleaser.


Billie Ayers: [00:19:38] Yeah, yeah. So the full schedule is really detailed and it's all online@ at And you can also find on there maps for parking. One of the things that we're seeing a trend is that people are making plans to bring come in groups and carpool and so our parking numbers are actually down. We haven't had a full parking lot yet as of last year yet. We're having record-setting numbers that are higher than we've ever seen. So we are partnered with the Sentinel High School and the band members there to help us share some of their parking over at Central High School. And the bus system has. Seemed like a 400% increase in their ridership during the fair. And of course, we have Uber drop off and and things like that that we're practicing more. So you know, people are really enjoying the fair. They really enjoy that there isn't a beer garden anymore. They just can walk around with the cocktails wherever they want to go. We just don't have them in the carnival lot or the livestock barns or the parking lots. And so people really do enjoy that come and go easy attitude. And you can bring your own picnic lunch to the fairgrounds. Just be people watching. You know, the only thing we ask is you don't bring your own alcoholic drinks, but it's a pretty good time. You're going to run into a lot of people that you haven't seen for a long time. And it's a great place where people who are often in different information silos, you know, they just remember they can reconnect. And that's kind of what fairgrounds are so important for today, is that they are a place where community still happens and people just break out of their schedules and they make time for each other.


[00:21:02] Wow. Missoula County Fairgrounds where community happens.


Speaker5: [00:21:06] That's great. Thanks, Billie.


Juanita Vero: [00:21:08] What are some of your favorite events? Yeah, both of you. From years in the past or right now? Yeah.


Jerry Marks: [00:21:14] I've got to pick up a little bit because the Missoula fair does serve as a way for people from all valleys to come together.


Juanita Vero: [00:21:22] It's western Montana.


Jerry Marks: [00:21:23] Yes.


Juanita Vero: [00:21:24]  The Western Montana fair.


Jerry Marks: [00:21:26] I see people there. I mean, it's just good, good visiting. So so that's that's been a plus. My main interest historically has been exhibits. It has been where we've had educational programs. The rodeo is always gore and they have had very good entertainment throughout. Certainly changed. I was surprised that people thought that horse racing was the best answer, and a lot of people from downtown participated in that, had a beer and lunch and watch the horses, which I didn't fully realize.


Josh Slotnick: [00:21:54] Jay was there. Wagering.


Speaker5: [00:21:56] Oh, yes.


Josh Slotnick: [00:21:56] Yes, I imagine so.


Speaker5: [00:21:58] Yes.


Jerry Marks: [00:21:59] And that's one of the reasons why it was popular. It was popular. But there are some state statutes on the county getting involved in gambling and and we also had some issue with liability. We couldn't find just a common way to keep that alive. And it's and it takes up so much of the fairgrounds and they didn't want to move. And so that that was one of the controversies most counties had a racetrack had.


Josh Slotnick: [00:22:26] What's it like now?


Jerry Marks: [00:22:27] One. Great Falls is the only one that I know of that's doing it.


Billie Ayers: [00:22:31] Mile City has just during the bucking horse sale, but not part of the fair.


Jerry Marks: [00:22:34] Okay.


Josh Slotnick: [00:22:35] That's pretty famous thing that bucking horse. Yeah.


Jerry Marks: [00:22:38] Yeah. And I know in Great Falls the county made a deal with the local people. They would provide $30,000 and they and they would have then to pick up all the prizes and all the other expenses that go on with the horse racing. And I don't know if that's still the way they're operating, but. But that's how they made that one work.


Juanita Vero: [00:22:57] What are some of your favorite events?


Billie Ayers: [00:22:59] Well, I've been with fairs for a long time. You know, first I was 4H and FFA, and then I went to college judging livestock in Kansas, and then I joined a fair board down there and thought I was going to be too young to be on the fair board and came home and found out I was president.


Josh Slotnick: [00:23:15] That's board activity usually works.


Billie Ayers: [00:23:18] You know, I've just been a member of like saddle clubs and things and trail riding, back country horsemen, all that stuff for years and years. And so my favorite thing when I've done all those travels, going to all those stock shows through college and things about Missoula is how we do not bring in anything really out of town. We are not on a routing system like other fairs, bringing in mimes or clowns. We spend our off season literally combing through Missoula and finding the nooks and crannies and bringing it to the fairgrounds and celebrating it. And that's how we've been able to double our activities and that they resonate with the people of Missoula because they're authentic. They're not, as you were saying, when you were a child, when you know that, you know, it just felt a little creepy and on edge. So we spent a lot of time to make sure that it feels very community and organized. And then that sheds light on those little communities or those new pop up like dance studios or things like that where they can showcase their talent, other people can learn about it, and we can get kids or, as Jerry says, more educational opportunities. So that's kind of what I love the best about Missoula's Fair over any other fair that I've been to or stock show. I think Missoula is one of the best communities at doing that.


Juanita Vero: [00:24:26] What about you, Josh? What's your favorite?


Josh Slotnick: [00:24:28] We have the rodeo. Just going to watch those events is really fun.


Juanita Vero: [00:24:32] Yeah, it was rodeo and past number of years is Lords of Dirt is not my favorite. They're fantastic and.


Billie Ayers: [00:24:39] He's just decided to put the Skurfs in the middle of the show. So there are local Missoula draw. We're going to bring them in in the middle of the performance before Keith Sayers stunts.


Speaker5: [00:24:49] The Skurfs.


Billie Ayers: [00:24:50] Yes. For the kids in the know, they'll be excited.


Juanita Vero: [00:24:53] Can you give a little teaser to listeners?


Billie Ayers: [00:24:56] I've seen photos of them. I've heard about them for months. But then Ryan Montgomery, who organizes Lords of Dirt, came in and told us, told me that he was bringing the Skurfs in. I said, Well, you just made this whole office really happy because they've been trying to book them for quite some time.


Juanita Vero: [00:25:11] Talk to us about volunteers. What do you need and what are you? How can folks get involved?


Billie Ayers: [00:25:14] Well, like Jerry said, the fair has been a source of revenue for service clubs, churches, other organizations, bands to make their entire year's budget using the fair for selling or actually working in service to the fairgrounds as ticket takers, parking attendants and things like that, security, information help. So we have really grown those service club partnerships and we only have one role that we need the community's help in and volunteering, and that is being a member of our green team. We have created lighted trash bins with recycling and compost. We've analyzed the situation. You know, it's dark. You can't, you know, someone flips open the lid. You can't tell what container it actually was. You know, when we take the empty the container and we take it to the back, does anybody remember which container was that? So we've looked at all those things. So we've added light, we've added better signage, and if we could just have this human element come forward, that'd be great. And we're willing to pay really well If you give us three hours helping us on our green team, you'll get carnival passes, you can get passes to the Rodeo or Lords of Dirt, or you could get fair food bucks. And so as you know that kids. Yes, Yes. So people sign up, they can just sign up on the website. There's so many shifts and we do.


Josh Slotnick: [00:26:25]


Billie Ayers: [00:26:26] be a volunteer and you can pick your time and you can rally your friends and make sure you're all working the same shift. So all you have to do is get off shift and get on the rides.


Josh Slotnick: [00:26:37] Thanks a ton, Billy, and thank you, Jerry.


Juanita Vero: [00:26:40] Last, last question.


Josh Slotnick: [00:26:42] Last question for each of you. Have you guys run across something in your perusing of Culture lately? That's podcast books, movies, anything out there in the world where you feel like there's some little nugget of wisdom you'd like to impart or pass on?


Billie Ayers: [00:26:54] You're asking me during fair season?


Josh Slotnick: [00:26:56] Could be a sSong you heard this morning. It was just like, This got me through today.


Juanita Vero: [00:27:01] A quote that gets you through the day.


Billie Ayers: [00:27:02] Well, I guess "rehearse success." Rehearse success.


Josh Slotnick: [00:27:06] So rehearse Success.


Billie Ayers: [00:27:08] Yes. And often I do it in the shower, which is not entirely friendly to the environment. So I'm always thinking about, is this in place? How does this day of the fair run just rehearse success?


Josh Slotnick: [00:27:17] That's a good one.


Speaker5: [00:27:18] Thanks.


Jerry Marks: [00:27:19] You mentioned music So I'll suggest a couple. One is Aaron Copeland. All right. And he's done a... He pronounces a different...Rodeo... But and he has a hoedown as part of that thing that I really think sounds good. He also has another song that's Fanfare to the Common Man. And I guess for me, it's Fanfare to the People. And so it's actually very good.


Josh Slotnick: [00:27:43] So those are great. Yeah. Thanks.


Juanita Vero: [00:27:47] Thank you both so much. And we'll see you all at the fair!


Josh Slotnick: [00:27:50] Yeah, see you. See you soon. Thanks.


Speaker5: [00:27:52] Thanks. See you then.


Josh Slotnick: [00:27:54] Thanks for listening to the Tip of the Spear podcast. If you enjoy these conversations, it would mean a lot if you would rate and review the show on whichever podcast app you like. And if you know a friend who would like to keep up with what's happening in local government, be sure to recommend this podcast to them. The Tip of the Spear podcast is made possible with support from better known as Missoula Community Access Television and our staff in the Missoula County Communications Division. If you have a question or topic you'd like us to address on a future episode, email it to And to find other ways to stay up to date with what's happening at Missoula County, go to And thanks for listening.