HAMILTON — It's back to the bull riding, and barbecue, this week as the Ravalli County Fair returns to full operation after last year's pandemic cancelation.
Ravalli County residents are cautiously returning to a community celebration, the biggest celebration of the year, with the opening of the Ravalli County Fair. And it all kicked off with a beautiful parade in downtown Hamilton Wednesday morning.
The blue skies were bearing down on the Bitterroot for the parade's return, a welcome sight after all the troubles of the past year, including miserably hot weather for much of the summer.
There are no official crowd counts, but it appeared the turnout was a little less than prior years as some people were giving each other a little more safe space. The Chamber of Commerce says the number of entities was also down somewhat, although that could be merely because it's not a big political year.
This parade is always about the best of the Bitterroot, from the beautiful horse and mule teams that lead the parade, to the varied "horsepower" throughout. Some historic, some funny and some flashy.
The parade is always a big day for local schools, although this year Corvallis and Hamilton students rode their own entries instead of the big fire trucks.
And it's nice to report even our two feuding political parties can come together to celebrate this community spirit. Democrats, following their GOP rivals, armed themselves with bubble guns, and were some of the few people seen in masks.
The fair's theme this year is "Blue Jeans and Rodeo Scenes" and there's certainly a lot to take in. Wednesday starts the long weekend of work for the 4H kids, who will primp and preen their entries in hopes of prizes, and perhaps success at the auction. Back to normal after being virtual last year.
For the rest of us, the best beef, and pork, or fries will be served up by hard-working vendors all along the midway through Sunday. And there's always the carnival, running every afternoon and evening.
So there really is something for everyone again this year at the Ravalli County Fair. Here's the full schedule of events.