A Fair Without A Ferris Wheel

Northwest Montana Fair and Rodeo will take place without a carnival

By Micah Drew
The carnival by night at the Northwest Montana Fair in Kalispell on August 15, 2019. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

The 2020 Northwest Montana (NWMT) Fair and Rodeo is still set to take place Aug. 19-23, but will now do so without a carnival. Bridger-based Northstar Amusements informed Fairgrounds Manager Mark Campbell late Tuesday night they would not be attending the fair.

“They’ve had a really difficult season — 20 plus events on their summer schedule, they’ve done two,” Campbell said at a press conference on Aug. 5. “For the health of our community and their workers, we’ve kind of jointly decided they won’t be part of the fair this year.”

Campbell hosted members of the media to give a rundown of the public health protocols that will be in place during the fair. During the press conference, members of the local 4H and FFA chapters spoke about the importance of being able to show their animals at the fair, the culmination of months of hard work.

Country artist Lee Brice will perform on the first night of the fair, and the grandstand has been arranged with limited seating to allow for social distancing.

The rodeo will be spread out over three days and feature morning and afternoon sessions. Campbell said that the fair received 445 rodeo entries as of Monday.

The fair has been a point of public contention in recent weeks. More than 150 healthcare workers in the Flathead have voiced their opposition to the fair continuing in full capacity.

“We do believe this community is stronger when we can get together and there’s a benefit to social health as well as physical health,” said Campbell. “We are going forward with confidence, we’re going forward with the best belief that all the people attending this year’s fair have a responsibility in keeping it safe.”

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