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RAVALLI COUNT Y FAIRGROUNDS

Among the places to do all that are the large and small animal barns — temporary homes to everything from exotic chickens to alpacas to draft horses. In the barns, exhibitors show livestock they’ve nurtured from babies. 4-H dedication is rewarded with ribbons and a livestock sale supported by businesses and individuals in the valley. In the open class division, everyone brings their best to compete in friendly competition in all areas, from photos to potatoes. As a youngster, Iman spent countless hours in those barns showing off his own animals and projects or watching as other 4-H’ers did the same. It was only natural that he became involved in the fair. It’s a family tradition that can be traced back to his great-grandfather, John Iman, a livestock order buyer for the George Burke livestock Auction Company in Omaha, Nebraska.

A Dandy blue ribbon

Photos in the Iman family album show John on a wagon at the Omaha Fair promoting the auction company. “Grampa” Russell Iman (John’s son) at age 8 won a blue ribbon in Omaha for his horse Dandy.

reputations with quality and tradition,” Iman said.

John Iman moved to Montana with his family in the late 1890s to run a blacksmith shop and livery stable in Missoula. The Imans settled for good in the Bitterroot in 1908.

The family showed stock at the fair. Grandpa Russell became the swine and sheep barn superintendent in 1926, a position he held and shared with Iman’s father, Jack, until grandpa death in 1964.

Along with operating the family ranch at Woodside, John Iman bought and sold livestock for Marcus Daly and ran the slaughterhouse at Woodside, delivering meat by rail to the mines in Butte.

“Jack continued with others, including Robert Horning until 1997,” Iman recalled.

“The fair was one of the venues where registered livestock cattle, hogs, sheep, dairy and horses were shown and marketed, and ranches built their

JR Iman’s great-grandfather Russell won a blue ribbon at the fair in Omaha, Nebraska, for his “much admired cob” named Dandy.

With dedication “and large amounts of volunteer help,” Iman said, fair facilities were expanded in the late 1960s and again with the construction in 1983 of Horning Arena — named for sheep superintendent Robert Horning — and the Iman Arena in 1996, dedicated to generations of service by the Iman family.

Homemade pies and all the trimmings

“All my life we went to the fair,” Iman said. “The family worked in the food booths where organizations sold homemade pies and all the trimmings to help support their causes. The grange and the churches and the social organizations all participated.” Iman’s first competition at the fair in 1959 was his blue-ribbon winning 4-H heifer. He got a red ribbon Trevor Iman, J.R’.s son, shows his steer at the Ravalli County Fair in 1995.

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Summer/Fall 2014 River to Ridge - Bitterroot Valley & Salmon Vallery  
Summer/Fall 2014 River to Ridge - Bitterroot Valley & Salmon Vallery  

Read about the Ravalli County Fair, Darby, Montana Bronc Riding and Barrel Racing, Stevensville's Founders Day plus restaurants, shopping, j...