Chuck E. Egan Stillwater County Fairgrounds now official

Mikaela Koski
Thursday, January 3, 2019

SCN photo by Mikaela Koski
            Chuck Egan last year at the Museum of the Beartooths, an organization he helped create.

The Stillwater County Fairgrounds now officially has a new name.

Unanimous approval was given to rename the area the Chuck E. Egan Stillwater County Fairgrounds on Monday. The name honors a long-time extension agent who spent much of his career at, and improving, the fairgrounds.

Egan worked as a Montana State University Extension Agent in Stillwater County for more than 28 years, and was then a county commissioner for another 10 years (1996-2006).

The name was officially changed by a resolution that was passed at Monday’s special commissioners’ meeting.

The document details some of Egan’s accomplishments. It says he “supported 4-H clubs and special interest activities which challenged kids and taught them life skills through leadership, citizenship, and decision making.” He also supported programs concerning agriculture and natural resources, business and community development, and weed management to help educate local landowners, producers, and businesses.

Egan was also “instrumental in getting the pavilion at the fairgrounds made into a contained building with a kitchen for all the county to use.”

Participating in Monday’s meeting via telephone, Egan noted that 12,000 people used the newly enclosed facility during its first year. A goal of his was to keep costs down, so Egan remembers doing a lot of the maintenance work himself.

He recalled all of the time he and his family spent at the fairgrounds over the years, a place Egan referred to as his “ranch.” By the end of his career, he had spent 37 years at the courthouse, and to this day Egan still says he misses it.

“I had some wonderful times in Stillwater County, and I certainly thank the people,” Egan said.

The commissioners received written comments showing support for naming the fairgrounds after Egan from 16 citizens from across the county and the local 4-H area. There were also several supporters that attended the meeting.

Keith and Karen Schott of Broadview, former 4-H members under Egan, wrote that, “Chuck has spent a lifetime of supporting youth in Stillwater County and the fairgrounds exemplify what he has worked so hard to achieve!” They noted, “he knew his county and the people he served,” and said what they remember about Egan’s service was that he worked to help “people come together to move forward.”

Roubie Younkin, one of Egan’s former coworkers who now is an extension agent for Valley County, described the fairgrounds as “Chuck’s classroom.” She added, “He poured his heart, his ambitions and his dreams into that space that we each reaped the benefit from.”

Egan was described as “a guiding hand to many children and people of this community. A friend to everyone he met. The father, grandfather, and friend of Stillwater County,” by local Kathryn Eaton.

Rapelje’s Gary Broyles wrote, “Our friend Chuck has dedicated his life to the betterment of our county and all of us residents are benefactors of his selfless service as our county extension agent throughout his career.”

There was one letter neither endorsing nor objecting to naming the fairgrounds after Egan. The resident, simply identified as “Ronnie,” argued that while Egan’s dedication to the fairgrounds was commendable, “so many individuals and organizations have contributed to the complex – both with monies and working hours, from the buildings to the land and all that has been involved to bring it to its present state.”

Ronnie suggested that rather than naming the fairgrounds after Egan, the name should stay the same and instead, a plaque should be created to commemorate all of the people who contributed to the fairgrounds throughout the years.

Commissioner Maureen Davey, who spearheaded the renaming project, said the honor for Egan was “way overdue” and that naming the fairgrounds after him was a “very fitting action” for the commissioners to take.

A metal, laser-cut sign displaying the new name of the fairgrounds will be located inside the center gate of the complex by June 1.