Slight Attendance Decrease Doesn’t Hamper Fair’s ‘Success’

Fair manager says despite smoky skies, the 2018 Northwest Montana Fair was very satisfactory

By Molly Priddy
Patrons enjoy a tractor ride through the Northwest Montana Fair. Beacon File Photo

The 117th Northwest Montana Fair was “very successful” despite a slight attendance decrease over last year’s number, the fair manager said.

“Overall, it was just a really successful fair,” Flathead County Fairgrounds Manager Mark Campbell said.

Fair attendance at events, concerts, rodeo, performances, exhibits and the carnival came in at 78,107 people from Aug. 15-19, a 1.75 percent decrease from 2017’s attendance numbers. Campbell said he thinks the wildfire smoke moving into the valley on Sunday, Aug. 19, likely hindered some folks from going to the fair.

“Sunday’s smoky weather really took the wind out of our sails,”

Campbell said. The Josh Turner concert brought in a record crowd for a fair concert, Campbell said, with 4,387 in attendance. The event sold out on Aug. 10, which left many local fans still searching for tickets, he said.

More than 12,500 people watched the Ram PRCA Rodeo on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at the fair, which is a slight increase from last year’s attendance, Campbell said. Rodeo payouts totaled $71,428.

Fair food saw increased sales of a little over 1 percent, he said, and the 2018 Best Fair Food in the dessert category was awarded to Mountain Berry Bowls. D&T BBQ earned second place with fried ice cream, and Glacier Shaved Ice won third.

Campbell said the livestock sale is another growing aspect of the fair, getting bigger every year. Gross sales at the market livestock sale topped last year’s record with $562,291.50 bid. All proceeds go directly to 4H and FFA youth in the community.

Even with the attendance decrease, Campbell said all the other aspects that make up the fair made up for the slight drop.

“We can count this one as a really good one,” he said.

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