Sunday, September 14, 2014

Western Montana Fair & Rodeo: Missoula, MT

I may have mentioned before that after moving to Montana, David became interested in photography.  I was already interested but up to this point, he was politely interested in my photographs but not at all interested in the process.  Now, we frequently go out and shoot photos together.  I thought that the fair and rodeo would provide a good lots of good subject matter for such an outing.

David and I have never been to a rodeo together.  I have suggested it in the past but his excuse always has something to do with this...

That's David.  He thinks he was around 16 when this was taken.

I think he felt he would be too nostalgic and possibly would want to try and compete again.  I played men's rules baseball once but I can still attend a professional baseball game without getting weepy.  I realize that I can't do all the things I could when I was younger and only covet the job of the bullpen catcher.  But he was resistant.  Until now.

First, we take in the fair.  I have been to the State Fair of Texas more than once, having lived in the Dallas area most of my life, and I have reasonably low expectations for the fair part due to the size of Missoula in comparison.  There are just over a million people in the whole state of Montana (the 4th largest state in size).  There are over 13 million in the Dallas metro area alone. 

But though this fair is smaller, it still has most of the things you expect at this type of event.  There are shows:  art, quilting, photography (why didn't we enter??), livestock, cooking.  There are the typical fair food vendors.  There are rides.  There is even a place to play bingo, which I talk David into doing. 

That's what BINGO looks like baby!  It cost me $2 for our cards and I won $6 (I had to split the pot with another winner) so I will take that $4 profit, thank you very much.

I need to buy David a treat with my winnings.  He didn't get very far with his card.

Treat acquired!  David's idea of a treat usually involves charred flesh of some kind.
And LOTS of mustard.

One of the most interesting things we stumbled on at the very back corner was the DockDogs competition.  Dogs would run down this platform and launch themselves to either catch a thrown baton or one suspended from a pole.  They land in a pool of water and swim back with their catch. 

If there had been any shade to sit in, we probably would have stayed here a lot longer. But we came as one competition was ending and there was a lull in the action and it was very hot that day.

And it is almost time for the rodeo.  Our plan is to watch the rodeo and then do some night photography on the midway.  We have good seats on the second row in the middle of the arena but next time I think we would try to sit slightly higher because there is a fence in front of us that was an issue for some of the shots we took (or wanted to take).  And yes, I said next time.  Despite saying it felt weird to be on this side of the arena, David really enjoyed himself.  There was some talk between him and a former rodeo teammate on Facebook about riding again when they turn 50 but I feel pretty confident that I can squash that before it becomes serious.  He still has residual knee issues (not to mention really ugly toes) from his former bull riding days.

When David got his camera, we got him a Nikon.  I use a Canon.  This wasn't on purpose but it does solve the issue of borrowing equipment.  Mostly for him since I am notorious for losing my lens caps, or leaving the house without my memory card (because I left it in my computer from our last outing), or not having my docking clip for the tripod.  A friend suggested that this would also be good from a competitive standpoint but this isn't an issue for us.  David and I can be standing side by side and the photo we will end up with is going to be vastly different. 

I asked David to pull out his 5 favorite shots from the day for this post, I think you will notice a theme:

Notice the guy in the background on this one.

All action shots from the rodeo, 3 from bull riding.  I know he liked a couple of his DockDogs photos but when pushed to give me only 5, when we took over 300 pictures EACH, this was the resulting field.

Here are my 5:

None from the events of the rodeo, unless you count the trick roper with the flaming whips, though I took several.  Normally I don't really like taking pictures of people but at this venue, that is really what was primarily available as a subject.

The fair was a little better than I expected and the rodeo was a lot of fun.  We will definitely go back.  Maybe next year, we will enter some of our photos in their contest, we have a few (hundred) to choose from.  We make good photography partners for one reason and maybe this makes us good partners in general.  We see different things even when we are sitting right next to each other.  


  1. Excellent post, Noelle. We go to the Fair every year and I think the Ravalli County Fair is just the right size. Love the way you two see things differently--and both ways are intriguing. The action shots are really great!

    1. Thank you Heidi. We missed Ravalli this year, we will have to try next time.

  2. Glad you enjoyed my trick roping show. :)

    1. Your performance was awesome. I can't wait to see the updated show in Nashville. I ordered you a shirt with no fringe.

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