101 years of bringing the community together
By Taylor Shillam
Photo Courtesy of Boundary County Fair
Summers in Bonners Ferry are simply incomplete without the Boundary County Fair. As one of the county’s oldest events, the Boundary County Fair has been enjoyed by generations. In each year since its origin in the early 1900s, the fair has brought a different experience than the last.
With its countless local vendors, lively parade, and the creativity of the community on display, the Boundary County Fair is a perfect chance for Bonners Ferry to come together to celebrate summertime and everything that makes the town unique.
This year, the Boundary County Fair returns August 11 through 14, running from 8:30am to 9pm each day. Its Opening Ceremonies will be held on Wednesday, August 11, at 6:30pm. Family Fun Night is set to follow the next evening at 6:30pm.
An entire schedule of events is lined up for 2021, with pre-events that began in July including preliminary 4-H practice, showing and judging. Then starting on August 11, a bit of everything can be found at the fair throughout its long days of operation, including live entertainment, pet shows, paper airplane contests, and a motorcycle show.
“There are games and contests throughout, vendors to visit, fair food to eat, and animals to see—and that’s only scratching the surface,” shared Fair Administrator Jodi Stoddard.
This year’s fair theme is Barn in the U.S.A., and the energy brought by the fair’s arrival is expected to be felt across the community. Stoddard advises community members to keep a lookout for the local businesses who will be decorating their windows in support of the fair.
Made-to-order T-shirts sporting the fair theme are now available at Vinyl Expressions on Main Street. “We hope to make the fair T-shirts an annual tradition,” Stoddard said. All proceeds from the store’s T-shirt sales will benefit the fair.
Highlights of this year’s fair include the Boundary County Fair Parade, set for Saturday the 14th at noon, with plenty of local entertainment lined up through the entire day. Cecil Lewis will bring his Magic & Comedy show to the fair each day, and this year’s musical entertainment will include local country-focused favorites the Christy Lee band and the Devon Wade Band. Music will begin at 5pm Saturday evening.
Even with its long list of scheduled entertainment and family fun, the Boundary County Fair remains a labor of love.
“The Boundary County Fair is still free,” Stoddard emphasized. “Free entrance. Free parking. Many businesses donate time, equipment, money and other resources to the fair every year.”
Stoddard encourages any locals who are interested in becoming more involved in the community to do so by volunteering at the fair. “If you are new to the community and you want to get to meet some fantastic folks, come volunteer at the fair,” she said. A “small village” of hundreds of volunteers work to help the fair run smoothly every year. “Volunteers are literally our life blood.”
Local families can lean into anticipation and begin the festivities early by picking up a Fair Book or coloring pages. Filled with long lists of the fair’s daily entertainment and event schedule, the Fair Book is available in both the Fair Office and the Extension Office.
This year, the fair will host coloring contests, with extra coloring pages available at the Fair Office. The coloring contests are to encourage local kids to stay active and creative throughout the summer as they anticipate the fair’s arrival.
While the annual fair is a highlighted event, a lesser-known fact is that the fairground facilities are available for rent throughout the year. The fairgrounds’ team encourages community members who are planning events, summer camps, family reunions, craft shows, fundraisers, and more, to check out the Boundary County Fairgrounds to host their party.
The Boundary County Fairgrounds are located in downtown Bonners Ferry on the south side of the Kootenai River. The fairgrounds are surrounded by plenty of parking and contain additional features to make visits enjoyable for the whole family, including a fire pit, picnic tables and a playground.
What is likely the fair’s most remarkable quality is the unique way it unites the people of Bonner’s Ferry. “The Fair has a way of pulling the community together,” Stoddard said.
She shares just one more phrase to the community before the event begins: “See you at the fair!”
More information on fair events, facility rentals and event participation can be found on the county website at BoundaryCountyID.org, or on their Facebook page at Boundary County Fair.