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Ritzville event more than just a fair

by CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE
Staff Writer | September 1, 2022 4:47 PM

RITZVILLE — Hannah Towne was rushing to get her steer, Chuck, ready to show at this year’s Wheat Land Communities’ Fair on Thursday.

“So I bought this steer in October, and I’ve been working on getting him tamed and leading him around our pen, washing him, clipping him, making sure he’s all prepped and ready for the chaos of the show,” Towne, 14, said.

Her dad Gordon Towne, who farms and ranches a small herd near Ritzville, gave her a few pointers on how best to use the electric razor to shape the hair on the cow’s tail just right.

“I have a lot of fun showing with these people around me. They’re all my friends,” Hannah said. “I really enjoy coming here. It’s a big community and everybody’s willing to support (us) and I just really love showing here.”

The fair is about that kind of community feel, organizers said.

“I think it's important for the kids as well as the community to just be in touch with production agriculture,” said Lori Williams, the fair’s livestock secretary, as she stood and watched the agriculture students compete. “It’s the end of their project where it's kind of rewarding to come to the fair and show off to the community, and then hopefully, sell at the end of the week for hopefully a profit.”

Hannah was one of about a half-dozen Future Farmers of America students showing steers on Thursday, the first day of the Wheat Land Community Fair in Ritzville, which began on Sept. 1 and runs through Sunday, Sept. 4. The fair is held in conjunction with the Ritzville Rodeo on Friday and Saturday and the Ritzville Community Parade on Saturday. The event began in 1980 to give farmers and their families in the wheat-growing areas of Adams County a place to gather after harvest and celebrate, according to Fritz Coon, president of the fair’s board of directors.

“The Wheat Land Communities’ Fair was organized years ago to serve the dryland portions of Adams County,” Coon said. “We have all the normal fair stuff.”

Coon said that participation in the fair is drawn from the region’s school districts — Ritzville-Lind, Washtucna and Benge — with a few kids coming in to participate from Sprague. In addition to the fair buildings and the rodeo arena, Coon said the fairgrounds include a grassy amphitheater available for other activities like weddings and family reunions and an RV campground open all season.

“We’ve become more than just a fair, though,” Coon said.

The fair is about coming together, Williams said.

“We have a great community support, and it's just a good time for the community to gather and celebrate agriculture,” Williams added.

The Wheat Land Communities’ Fair in Ritzville will last through Sunday. For more information, visit www.fair.goritzville.com or call 509-659-3209 or 509-660-0114.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com.

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CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE/COLUMBIA BASIN HERALD

Addie Harold, 13, of Ritzville, works her horse in the Ritzville Rodeo arena on the first day of the Wheat Land Communities’ Fair on Thursday.

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CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE/COLUMBIA BASIN HERALD

Hannah Towne, 14, gets advice from her father, Gordon, on the proper grooming of her steer Chuck as she gets ready to show on the first day of the Wheat Land Communities’ Fair in Ritzville on Thursday.

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CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE/COLUMBIA BASIN HERALD

A rabbit tries to keep cool with a frozen bottle of water on the first day of the Wheat Land Communities’ Fair in Ritzville on Thursday.

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CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE/COLUMBIA BASIN HERALD

Livestock judge Alexis Andrews looks over the Future Farmers of America market steers during the first day of competition at the Wheat Land Communities’ Fair in Ritzville on Thursday.

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