NISLAND | Thursday night, August 15, probably saw the biggest attendance at the Butte/Lawrence County Fair in years as Butte Electric Coop and West River Cooperative Telephone joined forces again to serve up a delicious barbecue supper.
"We ended up serving around 1350 (people) or so," said Butte Electric Manager John Lee. Lee figured that was probably one of the largest groups they had served in a long time. The two serving lines were long, with one snaking around the pavilion and another stretching along the south side of the serving area just south of the 4H Food booth.
Once again the fare included mouth-watering, thin-sliced roast beef, beans, pickles, chips and water, iced tea or lemonade to drink. The Republican party legislators again handed out a deliciously icy treat of ice cream cups to finish off the great meal.
"Long line," said Art Ollila. "We came kind of late and started way back there, and haven't moved far in 15 minutes," he said pointing to the east side of the pavilion. Most didn't mind the wait as they moved slowly along visiting with friends and acquaintances. The annual free barbecue gives old friends the chance to catch up on news or the opportunity to make a new friend as people visited with those next to them.
The annual barbecue is a thank you to the community from the two cooperatives who have joined forces for many years to sponsor the event. Both of the companies' staffs pitch in, beginning the set up process about 3 p.m. with cleanup lasting long after. This year the two groups started serving at the usual 5 p.m. time and nearly two hours later were finally serving up food to the final stragglers in the line.
There was plenty for all, however, including members of the Belle Fourche Cowboy band who started playing at 5 p.m. for a half hour program and then meandered into the line, very visible in their red shirts, white chaps and cowboy hats.
The band played such favorites as "When the Saints Go Marching," "You're a Grand old Flag," "Queen City," and "South" as well as "Yankee Doodle." The band is under the direction of Bob French and some folks have played with the group for many years if not decades.
"My dad wanted to bring the girls," said Tara Carlson, whose daughters Kaia and Presley were watching in awe as the band members played. Carlson's father is Dr. Litdke of Sturgis, a man well-known to Newell, Nisland and Vale area locals.
Many of the band members will come to help out the Newell Community Band as they play in the Labor Day parade in Newell and then put on a concert in the park. They will not wear the familiar red and white uniform but the music will be great.
As the people meandered along waiting their turn to get a plate of the barbecue fare, they had entertainment by Butch Samuelson, who played honkey tonk piano following the end of the Cowboy band concert. He played old favorites and some personally written pieces such as "Broadus."
Overall the event and the whole day Thursday could be considered a rousing success as a large number of people attended the fair and took in all the events, entertainment and looked through the many commercial booths inside and outside of the pavilion and across the fairgrounds.