Missoulian KALISPELL - Looking for a tried-and-true recipe for summer fun?
Start with a few caramel apples, then add a bundle of cotton candy, some icy snow cones, a relish and onion-covered hot dog or two, a piece of fry bread and a handful of funnel cakes, and then top it all off with barbecued chicken.
Swallow it all down on a 90-degree day, breathe deep of the lingering barnyard odors, then mix well on the Zipper, the Spider or the Ferris Wheel.
The Northwest Montana Fair has arrived in Kalispell, with animal judging already under way and the carnival rides set to begin spinning and whirling Tuesday night.
Also starting Tuesday evening are demonstrations of expert horsemanship, with team penning in the grandstand area.
On Wednesday, following an afternoon of judging sheep, chickens, cows, goats and young women vying for the Little Miss Rodeo crown, the attention will turn to center stage, with the annual country-western night show.
Thursday is "senior citizens and kids day," when fairgoers over 60 and under 13 get in free, and seniors can buy rodeo tickets at half-price. Horse log pulls are on tap in the afternoon, followed by a kids' rodeo at 3 p.m.
The real cowboys - for whom the Zipper isn't enough - will take a wilder ride at 8 p.m. with the PRCA rodeo. A 10:15 fireworks show caps the night's entertainment for those who haven't seen enough Montana fireworks this summer.
"We've got a fantastic fireworks display choreographed to music," said fair manager Jay Scott, "as well as a super specialty act in Tommy Lucia with his Hollywood Horse."
Lucia also features his "highly trained sheepdog, and his sidekick, Whiplash the monkey."
Whiplash is famous on the fair circuit, organizers said, for his trademark entrance. The pint-sized primate bolts into the arena bestride his border collie mount, decked in his finest cowboy duds and custom-made saddle.
The fair fun continues Friday with a 10 a.m. parade through downtown Kalispell and pari-mutuel horse racing at 1 p.m. The rodeo returns for another 8 p.m. show, followed by more fireworks at 10:15.
The lineup for Saturday is similar: racing at 1 p.m., rodeo at 8 p.m. and fireworks at 10:15.
Sunday is the last day of the fair, and is capped by a 7:30 p.m. demolition derby - for folks who need a more exciting ride than either the Spider or the bucking broncs can offer.
The following weekend, Aug. 26-27, sees the return of horse racing at the fairgrounds, with gates opening at 1 p.m.