Crow Fair commerce benefits Hardin businesses’ bottom line
Thursday, August 15, 2019
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Photo by Luella N. Brien

Carla Kae Lammers, owner of Sew Queen Designs, inspects the stitching on a toddler-sized elk tooth dress she sewed together for a client. Most of her business in the days and weeks before Crow Fair is from sewing orders. Lammers said she works with each client to replicate their particular way of assembling traditional garments.

Crow Fair is certainly the event of the year for the Crow Reservation, however it also affects many more aspects of Big Horn County. The town of Hardin sees a bit of an economic boost, as well with an increase in the number of visitors who come to Crow Agency for the celebrations.

Landa Uffleman, owner of The Farmers Daughter General Store, highlights how Crow Fair brings a large increase in sales of certain essential items to Crow Fair.

“A big portion of our sales consist of Enamelware dishes for the camps, a lot of the tribal design blankets for giveaways, and a lot of the tribal jewelry for the bridal ceremonies and dancing,” said Uffleman.

While Little Big Horn Days and Crow Native Days bring in the highest grossing sales for Hardin, Crow Fair brings a unique influx of visitors and sales.

Most visitors to Crow Fair are Indigenous peoples from across the U.S. and Canada who come to dance in the powwow, ride in the parade or compete in the rodeo. Many people from around the world come to Crow Agency for the celebration, and subsequently come to Hardin.

Carla Kae Lammers, owner of Sew Queen Designs, notices how Crow Fair brings a lot of clientele to her shop as well.

“Many of the people who come into the store are buying prizes for the dance specials and giveaways, but mostly they come with sewing orders,” says Lammers.

Lammers, who also carries much of the needed fabric for the essential regalia articles, says she gets most of her sewing orders during Crow Fair.

“People come in months before Crow Fair to get dance capes and breech cloths done for little boys’ outfits, little dresses and other items for the regalia,” she said.

While, these two shops accommodate the material items needed for the pageantry of the celebrations, the other practical needs of putting a camp together are sought at two other major places in Hardin.

Lammers Trading Post, which harbors one of the most significant trademarks of Crow Fair, the white

canvas tepee, sees its highest projected sales increase during the weeks leading up to Crow Fair.

There could be as many as 200-300 visitors who come to the trading post said one employee.

Wall tents, tepees, beadwork and saddles are the items with the most frequent sales during the celebrations.

Providing many other needs typically common to the Plains Indian culture such as beads, trade cloth, hides, Pendleton blankets, and teeth/bone accoutrements, the months leading up to Crow Fair see higher sales in preparations for displaying the unique regalia specific to the Crow people.

Aside from the cultural aspects of the Crow regalia essentials, another part of the Crow Fair essentials are the camping supplies necessary to occupying the camp spaces.

Due to the loss of Crow Mercantile in Crow Agency to a fire in addition to the closure of Shopko in May, many camping essentials such as food, propane for lanterns, bee traps, and mosquito repellent are now purchased at the Reese and Ray’s IGA.

With the city of Billings being a 45-minute drive and Sheridan being an hour away, along with fuel prices increasing with summer closing, most people who live on the most interior parts of the reservation, opt to come into Hardin to buy what they need to make camp.


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