I'm going to be brutally honest. I've despised the Western Montana Fair for many, many years. I've felt like Missoula could have done so much better with this annual event. When I compare it to most Caras Park festivals, even the Missoula Marathon, the fair has always just felt (at least to me) like a lackluster, unorganized throw together ordeal.

However, despite my bitter feelings towards the past, this year was without a doubt the best experience I've ever had at the Western Montana Fair.

All because of one very special companion...

While the old buildings and barns remained in desperate need of a touch up, the spaces were used to their maximum potential and the flow of the areas were smooth and inviting. The booths and vendors seemed a bit more plentiful (I was a huge fan of the Dock Dogs showcase), and the carnival rides were top notch! The little changes were noticeable and very appreciated.

Yet, aside from the minor improvements, the number one reason why I really enjoyed the fair this time around was mostly due to the special guest that tagged along with me. Someone who had never experienced a carnival, petting zoo, or even fair food in their entire life. This year, my wife and I brought along our three year-old daughter...

Finally, our little girl was old enough to appreciate the sights and sounds of a fair. I had built up her anticipation all week long, getting her all riled up with the promise of petting some real sheep, seeing her first pig and going on rides other than just our neighborhood swing set. By the time we left the house to begin our adventure she was brimming with anticipation. She could hardly keep her self contained in the car seat!

See, it occurred to me while we gave her the tour of the fair that her attention wasn't drawn to the cracks in the sidewalk, or the paint chipping from the old barns. She didn't scoff at the prices, nor did she get irritated by the aggressive carnival barkers. This is all stuff that would frustrate the adults!

Similar to Halloween or Christmas, parents have simply lost the passion that they used to have with these annual traditions. We've grown immune, perhaps even cynical in our old age. And it's not until we see something through the eyes of a child, or at least attempt to live vicariously through a young one that we can begin to enjoy what used to excite us when we were around that age.

This year, it occurred to me that the fair - while full of many adult attractions - truly is for the children. And really, in order to fully appreciate the fair (or anything in life for that matter) one must attempt to view it all from the perspective of a wide-eyed, easy to impress mindset of a child. That's when we begin to see some of the most impressive and genuinely amazing things. Oh, to be young again...

Subscribe to this YouTube channel and never miss an update: