"Only thing we have to fear is the fear itself." -- Franklin D. Roosevelt
In the era of COVID-19, it seems everything is shifting from the gap between the Haves and Have Nots to the gulf between the Fearful and Fear Nots, so much so that the Haves are so fearful of the virus that they're afraid to go out of their houses even to spend what they have on what they may or may not need. Enter NW Montana Fair & Rodeo to expose this new line of division in our neck of the woods.
Normally, we country folk are not afraid of much. Some of us live surrounded by rattlers, others by bears, wolves, and mountain lions, and we handle them just fine. Still, this little virus varmint has gotten even a number of us scared to the point of not wanting to do anything that involves other folks, the ones who don't belong to our own families.
We raise our animals fully intending to show them at the County Fair, then chicken out when the Fair rolls around, and decide to stay home instead. We produce our leather craft, and saddles, and other goods fully intending to make a living off them thanks in part to the County Fair, then at the last minute, we decide the risk of catching the pesky varmint trumps our need to pay bills and feed our families, so we stay home instead.
NW Montana Fair in Kalispell normally draws 78,000 - 80,000 people over 5 days to the local fairgrounds every year. Not so in August 2020. Apart from the (socially distanced) rodeo, the exhibit halls, the outdoor and indoor vendor booths, the concerts and other events were eerily lacking people. Don't get me wrong, I applaud the Flathead County for even attempting to organize the Fair as everything else was getting cancelled, for having workers diligently clean frequently touched surfaces, for making sure all vendors were social distancing properly... What I'm doing here is calling out our fellow Northwest Montana country folk.
Our ancestors didn't settle this territory by being fearful. They didn't acquire the land we inherited from them by running scared. They didn't weather cold and snowy winters, wildlife, and wildfires by cowering in fear. What they did is stand up for what they believed in: their families, their livelihoods, and their freedom to live the life away from the cities and make the name and the fortune for themselves on their own terms. That's the spirit of the American West.
So, to those among us who are fearful, by all means be smart about the dangers, but don't let this little varmint ruin the life you've worked so hard for. We're the West. We're the descendants of cowboys and pioneers, explorers and miners, trappers and farmers. Remember this the next time you're tempted to cower in fear of the next big scary thing that comes along. The only thing we have to fear is the fear itself.
P.S. For those who want to know, yes, Buckaroo Bling was at the Fair all five days. Now, we're back in our studio and ready to serve those of you who - for whatever reason - didn't manage to make it there. Below are some of the things from our booth that drew the most attention during the Fair. Go ahead, look for them in our online store, and shop to support a fearless small business.