‘General of the Exhibit Hall’ | SteamboatToday.com

‘General of the Exhibit Hall’

Longtime resident instrumental in setting up fair events

Linda Long, left, explains to her grandson Joe where she wants banners hung. Long has been setting up the Exhibit Hall for the Routt County Fari for more than 20 years.
Luke Graham

— Amid the moving of display boxes, plywood sheets and wall dividers, Linda Long stood and directed volunteers about the science of setting up an Exhibit Hall.

“She’s the general of the Exhibit Hall,” Fair Coordinator Jill Altman said. “She knows this building like the back of her hand.”

Long, who has overseen setup for the Exhibit Hall since 1972, said it is just part of her job. Her family has been involved with the fair since she can remember, Long, who lives on a ranch with her family in Oak Creek, said that although the family ties to the fair are part of the reason she keeps coming back, the main reason is a little bit more obvious.

“Because I love it,” she said. “It’s part family tradition, but it’s also important for the community to come together.”

As part of her duties, Long makes sure all of the display tables are set up in the Exhibit Hall, so all of the competitors and visitors will have enough space to show off their exhibits, including hay, art or food.

Before the fair begins, numerous buildings have to be set up. Each building has a superintendent who oversees the process. Altman said they’ve had more than 60 volunteers from 4-H help set up the barn for the livestock and have had volunteers come from across Northwest Colorado to help with the 10-day event. Still, no one is more noticeable than Long.

“I’ve been in the family for 21 years, and she has been doing it the whole time,” Long’s daughter-in-law Cami said.

Long’s 14-year-old grandson Joe added, “I’ve been doing this since I could walk.”

Throughout the years, the Exhibit Hall has been one of the top attractions to the fair. Each year, hundreds of people come to look at the displays, and Altman said they receive lots of compliments on the setup.

The modest Long said she shouldn’t get any of the credit. Instead, she pointed to the countless hours the hundreds of volunteers put in and the dedication of many people in Routt County.

“It’s not me,” she said. “It takes a ton of people to get this set up.”

Others give her the credit.

“If Linda wasn’t here we’d be in a world of hurt,” Altman said.

So as volunteers of all ages raced around putting up tables for displays, cleaning glass cases and hanging banners, Long emerged from the clutter, stopped, and finally admitted her presence might be needed.

“I’ve been doing this for so long, I’d be in trouble if I didn’t,” she said, “and so would the (volunteers).”

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