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A New Perspective on County Fairs

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

By M.P. Cremer

It is currently 3:31 a.m. on July 26. For once, I’m not up this late after binge watching a true crime, cult documentary series – I am up because it’s fair week in Montana’s Sweet Grass County. 

Last year, the Sweet Grass County 4-H Council offered me a gig to photograph the county fair and I readily jumped at the opportunity. I was somewhat new to town and eager to meet community members because I’m a people person and I really wanted to get my name out there as a photographer. On top of that, I’m an avid supporter of 4-H and FFA, so this photography job was right up my alley.

The 2021 fair week was hectic; hectic in a good way. I would take photos all day, edit them in the evening, upload them online to a photo gallery with the option to purchase photos directly from said gallery, then post on social media to let everyone know when each show was uploaded and ready to view.

All in all, it may not sound like a lot, but when it was all said and done, I’d captured and culled over 10,000 photos in the span of five days, and had all of them online within a week of the fair.

This year, I’ve got my system down, and my goal is to have galleries uploaded online within 24 hours of each show. This year, I’ve also got a photography mentor named Nathan who is taking photos in the ring with me. He is a local FFA member and a talented, young photographer. 

The photos he took today at the horse show were incredible – I’m excited to see what he does the rest of the week. But adding to the whole “there’s a lot of photos to go through” thing; today, Nathan and I took 2,874 photos which we culled down to 246 edited images.

Now I’m not sharing all of this fair photography information to brag or make y’all feel sorry for me. I love fair week, I don’t care if it’s hectic because, to be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

I tell you this because I realize I’m just a small player in the game at county fair; and if I am loaded down with things to do, you better believe our county’s Extension workers, 4-H club leaders, FFA advisors, concession stand runners, judges, ribbon and auction clerks, ringmen, heck, even the volunteers who offer to “help with whatever” are running around like crazy. 

Let’s not forget the parents of every showman participating – I gave them an entire sentence just for themselves because that is how important their role is. 

I tell y’all this, because when I was one of those showmen, it never occurred to me how little I did and how much the “adults” at the fair did. Sure, I worked with my animals in preparation for my county’s fair every year and yeah, fair week was always high stress. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t use it as an excuse to get out of school for a week every year. 

Now that I’m behind the scenes; now that I am one of those “adults” I overlooked so many times, I realize how much it really takes to put on a fair. Furthermore, I realize how much us “adults” really and truly believe in the future of agriculture. 

I feel it’s something I should’ve appreciated more when I was in the ring as a contestant, and I hope it’s something any 4-H or FFA kid who reads this appreciates now.

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