There may be life off the ranch, but any Fremont County farmer or rancher will tell you – The #aglife is “the good life!” #Aglife is a County 10 series, brought to you by Wyoming Community Bank, that pulls the curtain back on farm and ranch life in Fremont County.
There have been a lot of physical changes in the Fremont County Fair since MaryBelle Snider first entered it as a child back in the early 1950s. For seven decades she has been a familiar face at the fair, first as a participant, and then as an adult.
She was the Grand Marshall of this year’s Fremont County Fair Parade. It was just one of the dozens of things she has done over the years, including her current position with Friends of the Fair.
“I helped when there was a need,” Snider said.
That need took her through four generations of her family in the fair. Starting with her own entries, she was there for her children, grandchildren, and now great-grandchildren, supporting whatever event, venue, or activity they choose to participate in.
Sometimes work mixed with the fair, and that was OK too.
“When I worked at Montgomery Ward we had a booth at the fair that I manned from 1971 to 1974.
She was the culinary superintendent from 1966 to 1968 and noticed that the biggest change in the fair and society as a whole is in how they eat.
“It’s sad that people don’t cook anymore,” she said.
The layout of the fair has changed over time with new facilities and new arrangements for the old ones.
The Armory and Exhibit Hall have been mainstays of the fair since the early days, but their usage has changed over time.
“The Armory was for paid vendors,” Snider said. “Heritage Hall was for exhibits. We put sheets of plywood on sawhorses for display tables. All the food entries had to be on paper plates and there were so many that we had to carefully stack the plates on each other to have enough room.”
MaryBelle’s path to the fair was set at an early age on her parents’ farm south of Riverton.
Chris and Molly Mayland farm shared a fence on the east side of the Susquehanna Plant.
“Daddy witched for water. We had a beautiful artesian well, but when Susquehanna drilled a well near it, it ruined the well.”
The weather in the Arapahoe area is more extreme than just a few miles north in Riverton. Situated between the Big and Little Wind Rivers there are more thunderstorms, and the winter temperatures are often the coldest in the county.
“Daddy tried beans for three years, and it froze early every year,” Snider said. “It’s cold between the rivers. We grew mostly alfalfa and corn. We cleared the south 40 near the highway of sagebrush and grew grain there.”
After almost three-quarters of a century at the fair, you might imagine her interest would wane, but she’s still as excited as ever when fair week arrives.
“I just love all the youth. It involves the whole generation, everyone comes to the fair.,” Snider said. “It keeps everyone involved, we need to keep it that way.”
With each passing generation of her family in the fair her favorite venue changes with the interests of the grandchildren and now the great-grandchildren.
“Now that the great grandkids are all into hogs, the swine show is my favorite,” she said.
The generations move from one to the next but there is continuity.
“Our family down the line has been showing for a long time, “Snider said. “My brother Henry was a charter member of the 8 ½ 4H.
How long will she continue to work at the fair? She had a quick answer.
“Until God tells me when to quit. Without him, I couldn’t do any of it.