HAMILTON - For Bitterroot residents, the Ravalli County Fair and Parade mark the end to a long, hot summer. But what really brings the people out?
We hit Main Street Wednesday to solve the riddle.
Western Montana has its share of fun parades, but there's something magical about the Ravalli County Fair Parade.
It's savory, small-town taste that hearkens back to a Bitterroot gone by.
Certainly part of those ingredients are being with friends and family, the flags, the fire trucks and the Hamilton High School spirit.
The parade is the great equalizer, a place for the old, the young, and politicians to clean up.
Ravalli County Attorney Bill Fulbright is one of those fixtures, dutifully following the horse entries year after year, and getting some help from Sheriff Steve Holton this year.
We asked whether he was recruited for his expertise.
"Oh no," Holton answered. "We're teaming up with the 'Man Up Crusade' is teaming with the County Attorney's Office this year. So we're excited for that partnership and glad to help."
"Did he give you any pointers at all?" we persisted with a smile.
"So no. I grew up doing this, so I've got this," Holton laughed.
Talk with the adults and they'll tell you it's both watching the kids, and the nostalgia.
It's a chance to plug in to that "old timey" vibe, like music from a passing bluegrass band, reminding you of simpler days before face mask fights and $5 gas.
Certainly, it's the old tractors, both large, and small that putt through to the crowd's delight.
Our favorite was a spotless Nash Metropolitan, — a 1950s car without the fins and a thrifty attitude.
The owners told us they weren't getting the best mileage in the stop and go traffic, but admitted it was still more fun than an electric car.
But digging a little deeper we found the real reason the parade is so popular, with all the kids telling us it was "the candy!"
It's a good thing the parents can take those candy divers to the fairgrounds to work off all that sugar!
The Ravalli County Fair runs through Sunday at the fairgrounds in Hamilton.
More information and a schedule of events can be found at https://ravalli.us/545/Fair.