Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Organizers of the just-completed Western Montana Fair knew there would be impressive results for attendance and income for the 2023 event, but Events and Operations manager Billie Ayers told KGVO News that she was blown away by the numbers just released on Thursday afternoon.

“We know that from the PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association); they provide us in analytics that tracks visitors and we know that we had 150,000 visits,” began Ayers. “Of those, 102,000 were unique visitors, which is about 20,000 over last year, so that means 20,000 new people experienced the fair over last year. Overall that's about a 33 percent increase from 2022.”

Fair Sets New Records for Attendance and Income

Ayers provided more impressive numbers for the 2023 Western Montana Fair.

“Our food sales were up another 125,000, and that’s up 13 percent,” she said. “Our bar sales were up 16 percent. Again, adding the seating at the end of the grandstands gave us another 50,000 in additional revenue. The carnival did another $30,000 in additional revenue over and above the records that were set last year. So even when we put our budget before the commissioners, we kind of are still conservative on our revenue numbers. So when this all shakes out, we know we have every ‘T’ crossed, and ‘I' dotted, that we hope to have a very satisfying report for the commissioners.”

A New Strategy to Provide Better Access to the Grandstands

Ayers said they worked on a strategy to keep access to the grandstands open despite so many people in line for their favorite fair food.

“We really had to figure out a way to get the food line separated from the people trying to get into the grandstands,” she said. “That’s why we built out the anchor food vendors such as Vikings, Lemonderry, Montana ‘cue and others in a way to pull people around, and new this year we provided an entire map just of what each food vendor was offering and where they were located, in addition to our schedule that also had a map.”

New Records were also set at the 4-H and FFA Livestock Sale

KGVO, which has supported the 4-H and FFA livestock sales over the years, also celebrates the results from this year’s fair.

“The 4-H livestock sale had another record-breaking year,” she said. “It takes a little while for all the added money to be counted and dropped off for each of the kids but it looks like it's going to come in at $800,000 which is up $40,000 to $50,000 from last year. Those are just kind of some conservative numbers and we will know in about a month really where everything lines out.”

The Missoula County Commissioners decided several years ago to provide free admission to the fair, which also bolstered attendance.

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