Each year, fairs and stock shows bring people together and give farmers and ranchers a break during the busy summer months. Late in the fall of 2018, the Rocky Mountain Association of Fairs (RMAF) held its 93rd Annual Convention in Billings. Each year, the RMAF inducts a leader in the fair industry into its Hall Fame. This year’s winner is a friend to many Montana fair goes, Bill Ogg.
Ogg began his career at the Wyoming State Fair in 1980 at the age of 26, making him the youngest fair manager in the nation at the time. From there, he has made an impact on communities and fairs across Montana and the country.
“I substituted some elbow grease and enthusiasm for any lack of knowledge of that side of the desk,” said Ogg, reflecting on his start in the fair business. “I had a fairly strong 4-H and FFA background and exhibition experience. But the management side of it was a brand-new challenge. After several years I was hooked, and it was a vocation. I went from Wyoming State Fair to Montana State Fair in Great Falls in large part because of the influence of a great mentor and friend Bill Kaza, who was a longtime manager of both the State Fair in Great Falls and Montana Fair in Billings.”
From the Electric City, Ogg went on to manage the Kansas State Fair. He returned to Great Falls, then led the Greeley Stampede in Colorado. Currently, Ogg manages the Walla Walla Fair and Frontier Days in Walla Walla, Wash.
It takes countless individuals, time and management for a fair to be successful. For Ogg, growing up in agriculture gave him a strong foundation of knowledge and work ethic to be a successful fair manager.
“I’ve had a wonderful career, and certainly there’s been sacrifices,” said Ogg. “I was as close to production agriculture as I could get with the opportunities that were afforded me. I grew up in Worland, Wyoming, on a family farming and ranching operation and my older brother was rightfully the heir apparent, so the rest of us kids had to go find other jobs.”
When describing his career and the places he has worked, Ogg says it is all about people.
“Helping people have fun and watching people you know promote agriculture and achieve things is what it’s all about. You can’t help but be moved when one of those freckle-faced kids gets that grand champion ribbon, and it’s someone you know and when it’s well deserved it’s just so awesome. The participation in 4-H and FFA is very strong and near to me personally.”
Ogg’s peers say his RMAF Hall of Fame induction is a well-deserved honor for a man committed to bettering individuals lives in rural America.
For more on the RMAF visit www.rmaf.net.
Reporting by Lane Nordlund for MTN News