Fairground Facelift Projects Underway

Grandstand renovation and infrastructure updates top the list

By Molly Priddy

Renovations are underway at the Flathead County Fairgrounds, as three projects will combine safety, aesthetic and infrastructure improvements to enhance the facilities before the Northwest Montana Fair this summer.

According to fairgrounds manager Mark Campbell, one of the biggest projects will be a total facelift for the aging grandstands. The work will include totally replacing the roof on all three levels of the grandstands, along with putting in new lighting underneath the roof.

The lighting will be changed from incandescent bulbs to LED bulbs, Campbell said, and will be connected to backup power if the general power goes out, so people will be able to see as they leave the stands.

Crews will also be painting the metal under-structure of the roof and the girders, he said, which will be the first time they’ve gotten a fresh coat of paint since the stands were built.

“It’s a long ways up; that’s why it hasn’t been painted for 90 years,” Campbell said.

There will also be the addition of two new seating sections, which will comply with American Disabilities Act standards.

These grandstand upgrades are all about health and safety, Campbell said, though new paint and a new roof will improve aesthetics. The
grandstand project costs about $250,000, he said.

Another project underway includes replacing infrastructure on the fairgrounds, such as storm drainage, water and sewer linings and other utilities on the south end of the grounds.

This is phase one of a project that will eventually upgrade infrastructure and utilities all through the fairgrounds, Campbell said. They started on the south end because it is the lowest drainage point; the rest of the project will go uphill from there.

Flathead County has nearly $650,000 in its capital improvement projects budget for the fairgrounds, and is expected to have $900,000 more for fiscal year 2015, according to the county.

Campbell said the third improvement project occurring on the fairgrounds comes courtesy of the 4-H woodworking group, the Dandy Dudes and Dolls, who are putting in volunteer time to improve the rabbit and poultry barn.

These improvements include new flowers, new entry aspects and some new windows as well.

The Northwest Montana Fair is scheduled to run Aug. 13-17. For more information, visit www.nwmtfair.com.

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