The 2018 Western Montana Fair did not reach the heights in attendance or revenue of the 2017 fair, but county officials are still very pleased with the results.

Western Montana Fair Production Manager Tom Aldrich said with attendance at about 80,000 the fair was a success. In 2017, the fair drew over 86,000 visitors.

“What our press release said was that the fair hit ‘it’s sweet spot’, and that’s really our goal now,” said Aldrich. “We’re not chasing the numbers and trying to grow the fair beyond what it is now. We’re just dialing it in on this level in continuing to improve the programming and just making it better and better bat the size it’s at right now.”

Aldrich said the extremely hot weather made conditions difficult at times during the day, but at night the cooler temperatures brought the crowds back.

As far as revenues from this fair, Aldrich said concessions and the carnival were very successful.

“On that report, we’re at about $500,000 for concessions and we were just under $400,000 for the carnival, and those are the big numbers that we track, and a lot of them are still coming in.”

Aldrich said fair sponsorships were up by about 13 percent over 2017, and thanks in great part to Noon’s Food Stores, carnival pre sales were up 40 percent over last year and 73 percent over the seven year average at nearly $144,000.

The top-selling and record-setting Fair food was the legendary Lemondairy – a delicious combination of a lemon slushy and soft-serve ice cream sold for the benefit of Zoe Ministries. Add huckleberries and you have a Huckleberry Jamboree. The Lemondairy supplanted the long-reigning Viking-on-a-Stick offered by Sons of Norway as the top seller

Aldrich could not comment on the accident at the carnival which seriously injured an 11 year-old girl.

2018 was the second year in which the fair charged no admission, and that will continue in the years to come.

(photo courtesy of Jeffrey Neubauer)