It was warm, it was sunny and it was crowded.
The 2011 Great Northern Fair was everything a fair is supposed to be, and that included five nights of unique sporting events inside the arena of the Great Northern Fairgrounds.
The weeks of sports at the fair is something I look forward to covering every year. Why you may ask? The answer is simple.
First, I’m not just a football and basketball guy, and I don’t just like to play golf or tennis. I might like my plain old meat and potatoes when it comes to food, but I’m a fan of all sports, from the big four, football, basketball, baseball and hockey, to everything with engines and all sports in between. I must admit I really don’t understand cricket that well, but if it were prevalent in the United States, I probably would like watching that too.
Fair sports are unique, they are something different from the everyday ESPN routine, and I enjoy a break from the norm.
And that’s why I look forward to the fair. I enjoy the rodeo. I think the men, women and youth who participate in rodeo are tremendous athletes, and whether it’s watching someone control a horse around barrels, perfectly throw a rope around the legs or head of a steer, or ride 1,500-pound animals who’s sole purpose is to buck off their rider and get back to their hay fields, the rodeo is a sport which is great to watch.
And this year’s three nights of rodeo at the fair didn’t disappoint. The juniors showed their passion for the sport on (the night of July 20), while the professionals, some of whom I know personally, put on a great show at the NRA’s Great Northern Rodeo last Friday and Saturday night.
Then there’s the sports with the engines.
The Pro West and local truck pulls have quickly become a crowd favorite at the fair and for good reason. The show is loud, very loud, but it’s also chalked full of power, exhaust and mud, and if you’re a horsepower junkie, then watching truck pulls is something you would enjoy, and this year’s pulls certainly had their share of thrills.
And finally, the crown jewel of sports at the fair, the Jaycees Demolition Derby. I’ll admit, I’m not exactly sure what makes a derby good or bad, but in my humble opinion, I thought it was as entertaining as ever.
I’ve heard rumblings that the derby was a disappointment this year, but from my viewpoint inside the arena, I thought it was as good as ever. The championship heat was full of aggressive driving, hard collisions, roaring engines, mud flying and the crunching sound of sheet metal being crushed. There were flames and wipeouts and there was one man left driving at the end. I thought that’s what a derby was all about, and that’s what I saw on Sunday night.
The derby was a perfect ending to a great week of sports at the fair, a week I look forward to because I don’t get to cover them but once a year.
And one constant throughout was the tremendous support from the community of Havre. Just as Havre people support the Lights, Skylights and Blue Ponies, they turn out to support the people that devote their time, energy and passion to the week of sports at the fair, and it’s great to see.
There’s still some summer left, and then it’s on to fall sports, and I couldn’t think of a better way to bridge that gap than what I just saw at the fair.