Tuesday, August 14, 2012

“VIEW from the BRIDGE”
By Muncie

This week it is all about the Chouteau County Fair.  It is such a special occasion being the 100th anniversary.  One hundred years ago…just think about it.  A whole century has passed by and many decades.  In my case, my grandparents were in their 20’s and starting their families.  People were flocking to Montana to get a section of land to farm.  They began the Chouteau County Fair to show off their crops.  They began the Fair to meet with their friends and neighbors they did not often see.  It was the event of the year and everyone looked forward to it.  It was also a memory making and fun time for the kids.

So what went wrong from that time a hundred years ago?  Is everyone too busy to get involved with the Fair?  Are they not proud of their crops?  Do they see their friends and neighbors more often these days and do not need a Fair to visit?  Perhaps our social world is falling apart just as the Fairs are all over the country.  Things just “ain’t” like they used to be.  Change is constant whether we like it or not.
I have been in Fort Benton for 19 years and one of the things that impressed me the most, my first year, were the Chouteau County Fair.  I had never been to a County Fair before.  We checked everything out area by area.  I really enjoyed the Art Department and examined every piece of baked and canned goods, and every plant and vegetable.  I tried, in my own mind, to judge the ones I thought were the best.  Proudly, I would come out with the same conclusion as the judges.  (Good job Judges.)  

I still cannot believe the work that the 4H’ers do.  What a life learning experience they have.  I would always hire a 4H’er over other applicants for a job.  They know a real work ethic. They are our counties future and we should support them as much as possible.

When my Sweetheart, Wally, said we were going to the Demolition Derby, I just knew I would not like it.  I never dreamed that I could scream so loud and have such a great time.

The point of this, “Never Ending Story,” is to get involved.  Please do not let the Fair go by the wayside.  Keeps it going.  Enter something, (anything,) in the Fair.  There is a list, a mile long, of items that you can enter.  You surely can find one thing in that long list. If everyone in Chouteau County would enter one item, we could once again have an exciting time.  Competition is the name of the game.  It is not any fun winning a blue ribbon for the best, when there was not another like item to judge against it.  For example, let’s take 5 apple pies and see who has the best one.  Wait a minute.  Looking back at the last sentence, I think I see the problem.  People today do not like having being told that they did not have the best apple pie.  The answer?  I cannot say but “just do it.”  Let us see who has the best apple pie in Chouteau County.  See you there.

A good example of asking for volunteers was in this column last week. The Lions Club, with Randy Morger in charge, asked volunteers to give 3 hours of their time over the 3 days of the Fair.  The parking donations will be collected for 12 hours a day for 3 days.  Randy needed, (as close as I can figure,) 48 volunteers.  That would be 8 volunteers a day for 3 days times 2 gates is 48 volunteers.  He had 11 volunteers signed up.  How many do you think called him to volunteer?  Exactly 0, that is zero, naught, no one, not anybody.  Come on Folks!  Lend a hand to help the Lions Club.  They do such good work s for the community and this is their primary fundraiser.  If I can do it, you can do it.  (Am I making you feeling guilty enough?)  I am now reaching out to the volunteer groups such as The General Federation of Woman’s Clubs, The Cancer Support Group, The Golden Age Center, The American Legion, The VFW, The Church Groups, The Fort Benton Elementary and High School Teachers, The Fort Benton City Employees and Council, the Lions Club themselves, and other organizations that I do not know about, (or cannot think of at the moment.)  Surely, with that many people, we ought to come up with enough to cover the Lions needs.  “JUST DO IT.”

I stepped out of the house one day a few weeks ago to see a young man with a clipboard checking out the trees on the boulevard.  He was from the State of Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation in Missoula.  He left me his supervisor’s business card and because I love trees, I was curious as to what was happening.

Jamie Kirby is the Urban and Community Forestry Coordinator.  She was a wealth of information telling me that Fort Benton was given a grant to cover a multitude of tree problems and cures.  Skip Ross, Don Hazen, and the City of Fort Benton submitted the grant.  The day that I met Josh, with the clipboard, was the beginning of a tree inventory.  He and his partner also named Josh, recorded data on the 600 trees in Fort Benton.  They identified all the trees, measured the diameter, and the overall conditions.  Some of the data will include putting the location of every tree on the computer so you can pinpoint any tree in the city.  It will also include a maintenance schedule, those trees that need immediate attention, routine attention, hazard trees, and care of small trees.  The study also includes the value of the trees however, that has not been completed.  Ms. Kirby said that our trees are very valuable.  I will pass on information as it comes to me.
The complimentary kudos that came from the two Josh’s’ was that Fort Benton was a most beautiful city.  Ms. Kirby said she is eager to come and visit.  She will be most welcomed.

My shift at the Visitors Information Center is on Tuesdays from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.  I have been very lonely on those days since we began in May because I have not had very many visitors, in fact hardy any.  That is until last Tuesday the 7th.  I greeted 13 Visitors and they were all very interesting.  A company that investigates CRP properties employed the last young man.  If you know anything about CRP, you will recognize what he has to do on his job.  If you are not, then my simple explanation may acquaint you with the process.  A landowner with CRP property must have the proper crops planted.  This young man’s job was to check each property for the proper plantings.  I learned a great deal from him.  He also took down the flags for me and I was grateful for that.  The flags are hard to handle when the wind is blowing.

I did greet one young man from out of state that has parents living in Great Falls.  He stayed for the full two hours because we discovered that we were both rock hounds.  There are some identified rocks on the table that belong to Joan Albers and that started the conversation.  The young man said that he would return someday and bring his arrowhead collection for me to see.  I hope he returns soon.

Wear RED on Fridays.  Save Labels for Education for the Fort Benton Elementary School, (you can turn them in at the Price Rite.)  Do a good deed today.
Keep cool.  Visit the Old Fort and the Museums.  Drop in at the Visitors Information Center to see the brochures you can use.  Invite your family and friends to the Chouteau County Fair.  Keep busy…it is good for your mind.  Visit the Library…they have many great books for you to explore.  Shop local.