Huff leaves the fair board after 10 and a half years
Paul Huff rides his horse, Lindi, Friday afternoon on the alfalfa fields in front of his home on Burnette Creek Road. After nearly 11 years as a fair board trustee, Huff has turned in his resignation, wanting to spend more time tending to horseback riding and other passions.
Photo by Charlie Denison
Devoted Lewistown community volunteer Paul Huff is taking the phrase “riding off into the sunset” pretty literally these days, spending a little less time on board and a little more time on horses.
Although the time on the saddle brings the retiree much joy, it’s still hard to say goodbye to the fair board, fromwhich he resigned in August.
“I’ve been on the board for ten and a half years, and I felt it was just time to go,” Huff said. “That’s a long time, and, I’m getting older. In October I turn 75. I thought I’d give myself a birthday present.”
The early birthday present has already brought him more peace of mind, freeing up his schedule and giving him a chance to focus on his true passion of horseback riding.
“I’ve been riding the last four nights in a row,” Huff said. “It feels good.”
Nevertheless, it’s bittersweet leaving the fair board, but with longtime friend and trustee Gene Meier stepping down just weeks earlier, he felt this was as good a time as any.
“No one has given more than Gene Meier. He will be greatly missed,” Huff said. “I, on the other hand, am expendable. All I gave was my time.”
Meier, however, disagrees, saying Huff was an instrumental part of the board.
“I can’t say enough good things about him,” Meier said. “He was our mediator. He was our stabilizing factor. It’s going to be tough to replace him.”
In addition to being an essential peacemaker, Meier also said Huff played a large role in improving the horse barn, strengthening the horse show and helping the fairgrounds be at its best come fair time.
“He really put in a lot of work,” Meier said. “It’s impressive what all he did. It’s quite a commitment for a 60-year-old, let alone a 74-year-old.”
What also impresses Meier is Huff’s selflessness. Dedicated as he is, being a part of Kiwanis, Back Country Horsemen, the Art Center and several other community organizations, he always kept the best interest of the community in mind.
“He didn’t do it for Paul,” Meier said. “He did it for Lewistown.”
First Meier, now Huff, the fair board is changing, but Huff said he continues to be optimistic about the future of the fairgrounds and the Central Montana Fair.
“I know the fair will survive,” Huff said. “It’s too important to the community for it not to survive.”