One last rodeo

Director Chris Holloway leaving North Idaho Fair after 14 years

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SHAWN GUST/Press Chris Holloway plans to retire after 14 years as fair manager for the Kootenai County Fair and Rodeo.

COEUR d'ALENE - It's not any one thing Chris Holloway will miss when she steps away as North Idaho Fair director, it's everything - every detail down to each pig's blue ribbon.

Every booth, every vendor, every smiling, sunburned face.

Every animal, every entry, even every hour spent putting the annual attraction together.

"It's not one thing," Holloway said. "It's the feel, when you come on the grounds, and see the buildings, the flowers..."

After 14 years as head organizer, Holloway is hanging up her hat after this year's fair.

Partly because she wants to spend more time with her family, partly to explore other passions in her life, such as photography, she said the timing felt right to move on.

"It was a hard decision because I love the fair," she said. "It's like planning a big party for 80,000 people."

Photography led Holloway to the fair. Working with her father's horse racing photography business, Holloway grew up going from fair to fair across the Northwest. After she earned a business degree from the University of Idaho, she saw the North Idaho position opening and applied, figuring it would be a short stint.

"I told myself I'd give it five years," she said. "Now here it is my 14th. I've gone way past it."

The North Idaho Fair Board of Directors is searching for Holloway's replacement. Holloway's contract runs until the end of the year, and she'll stay on board through this year's event, Aug. 22-26, and until her replacement is brought on board to ensure a smooth transition.

The fair draws in 200 vendors, 6,000 event entries and between 60,000 to 80,000 visitors each year. Everything, from rodeo riding to demolition derbies, are a part of the summer tradition. And Holloway, married with two daughters and living in Post Falls, said it's a lot of detail to coordinate every year, but she'll miss the people she worked with most of all.

"It's one of those jobs where every day is different, nothing surprises you," she said. "It's a cool event. It's like a melting pot."

A melting pot, with a million different details, all of which Holloway will miss.

Every animal, every elephant ear.

"It's a feel," she said of how she appreciated every single component of putting it together each year. "Like in the morning before the crowds are there, and the way the sun comes up..."

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