2019 Fair Sees Increased Attendance, Exhibits

4H, FFA students bring in $560,000 at fair's Market Livestock Sale

By Molly Priddy
Kole Aschbacher of Arrowwood, Alberta competes in saddle bronc riding at the Northwest Montana Fair Rodeo in Kalispell on August 17, 2019. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

The 2019 Northwest Montana Fair saw increased visitation over last year’s fair, with nearly 80,000 people attending events, concerts, rodeos, and viewing exhibits.

The fair ran from Aug. 14 – 18 in Kalispell at the Flathead County Fairgrounds, and saw 79,372 people, an increase of 1,265 people from 2018’s fair.

Fairgrounds Manager Mark Campbell said the fair “was complete in all areas,” and that the overall experience was “fun, safe, and exciting” for the community.

The week kicked off with a grandstand concert featuring country music star Gretchen Wilson, who brought in 2,858 fans. The concert was cut short by 10 minutes, however, due to a rain and lightning storm that Campbell said would “leave a lasting memory for all who attended.”

The PRCA Rodeo, held on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights of the fair, had a total attendance of 13,000 people, and a total payout of $75,535. Campbell said the rodeos continue to see steady increases in attendance every year, with the Saturday night performance selling out early in the evening.

The 2019 Leroy Skunkcap Memorial Indian Relay Races hosted 23 teams from three states and Alberta, Canada. Black Rock Relay of Browning won the event and were crowned champions.

The 4H and FFA participants had another stellar year at the Market Livestock Sale, which brought in more than $560,000, with all proceeds going to the youths who raised the animals.

There were more than 8,000 exhibits entered in the 4H, FFA, and Open Class competitions, an increase of about 10 percent from last year. Campbell said most of the 23 departments saw increases in exhibits, but they’ve been especially noticeable for larger animals.

The award for 2019’s Best Fair Food went to D&T BBQ, with the Flathead Valley Marines coming in second with their chicken dinner platters, and Glacier Shaved Ice coming in third.

“While numbers are used to track our progress and provide good barometers of how the fair is viewed, a successful event is also comprised of many intangible factors,” Campbell said in a prepared statement. “Enjoyment, education, safety, and a community coming together to celebrate are all just as important. We can’t extend our appreciation for all the support, volunteerism, and effort by thousands of people that made this year’s fair exceed on all accounts.”

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