The 2017 Northwest Montana Fair was an unmitigated success, the fairgrounds director reported, with increased attendance, great weather and a huge response to the 4-H and FFA market livestock sale.
“All in all it was tremendous,” Flathead County Fairgrounds Manager Mark Campbell said. “I couldn’t have been more pleased. I can’t think of many parts of the fair that really lacked anything or didn’t meet or exceed expectations.”
Preliminary tallies show that general fair attendance was up 4 percent from last year’s fair and rodeo, with about 79,500 people attending the various concerts, events, exhibits, and rodeo.
The fair ran from Aug. 16-20, with temperatures cooler than they’d been in weeks. There were more than 7,000 exhibits in the 4-H, FFA and open class competitions, but the market livestock sale stole the show, bringing in $515,090.75, Campbell said.
“Of that $515,090.75, every bit that went directly to the kids (who raised the animals),” he said.
The sale is a collaborative effort between the fair, 4-H, FFA, and the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce’s agricultural committee. The kids pay a $35 fee to sign up and register their animals, but otherwise, the money they earn at the sale is theirs.
This year’s total sales topped last year’s sales by more than $138,000.
“Talking with the chamber, the 4-H advisor, the FFA instructors, we were just all shaking our heads thinking, ‘How did that happen?’” Campbell said.
The fair’s main concert, featuring country star Dustin Lynch, brought in more than 4,000 people, with the party pit and reserved seat sections sold out. Campbell said the show only earned compliments from the audience.
“I’m not sure how we’re going to keep that bar raised,” Campbell said with a laugh.
Three days of Ram PRCA Rodeo brought in more than 12,000 people, and North Star Amusements’ carnival rides saw increased ridership, up 8.5 percent over last year.
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