The 2012 Northwest Montana Fair saw a slight increase in overall attendance numbers, according to the first available reports from the county fair office.
Attendance hit 79,954 this year, up nearly 2 percent from 2011’s total, according to Flathead County fairgrounds manager Mark Campbell.
That total includes all who attended the events and visited exhibits during the 109th Northwest Montana Fair, which ran from Aug. 15 through Aug. 19.
“The public enjoyed many of the changes and participating with the ‘Vote for Fun’ theme,” Campbell said in a prepared statement. “While it’s still early for detailed reports of all the programs, we wanted to share our appreciation to everyone involved that made this such a safe, positive, and fun event.”
The Rodney Atkins concert had the biggest concert audience in recent history, with 2,994 people. Stephen Curtis Chapman and Spirit Fest brought in 1,375 people.
Over 11,000 people attended the RAM PRCA Rodeo events, with Thursday and Saturday evening’s action attracting more than those nights last year.
There were also more daredevils on the Inland Empire Carnival rides this year, with ridership up 2 percent.
The “Vote for Fun” theme allowed visitors to cast their ballot for their favorite fair feature, and with 9,152 ballots turned in over five days, draft horse display won with 1,812 votes.
The rabbit and poultry barns took second with a combined 1,560 votes. While the theme allowed visitors to have some fun with voting during a particularly heavy election year, it also helps fair staff keep tabs on public perception of the fair events.
“While numbers are important to track our progress and established goals, a successful event is also comprised of many intangible factors,” Campbell said. “Enjoyment, education, safety, and a community coming together. This year’s fair excelled in these areas.”
Planning for the 2013 Northwest Montana Fair – which takes place on Aug. 14 through Aug. 18 – is already underway.
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