The Missoula County Fairgrounds is the home of the Western Montana Fair, and according to Fairgrounds Manager Emily Brock, all options are on the table for this year’s fair, and as a possible site for the Farmer’s Market.

Brock said the COVID 19 pandemic has already led to numerous fairs simply cancelling their seasons, but the fair board in Missoula isn’t ready to call it quits just yet.

“We are still moving forward as if we were going to have an 80,000 visitor fair,” said Brock. “That seems more and more unlikely as fairs around the region cancel, but we are going to offer more options that preserve some of the stalwarts, such as 4-H. That’s our highest priority having the 4-H livestock judging and market sale. It’s very important as those year-long projects are continuing.”

Brock said two of the most popular features of the fair are now its two biggest challenges.

“Our two biggest challenges are rodeo and carnival,” she said. “Because the rodeo is so reliant on food and beverage sales and sponsorships to stay in the black,” she said. “For the carnival we’re looking at ticketless options and fewer rides if we could do that with social distancing, and again, no decisions have yet been made.”

Regarding food row and the many churches and nonprofits that depend on that fair income, she used an example, the Sons of Norway Viking booth.

“We could do something like make one week the Viking week where we could really help them promote that and get people to do drive-through or something like that,” she said. “Those are some of the ideas that we’ve been bouncing around with the commissioners.”

When asked about using the fairgrounds for the Farmer’s Market, Brock was way ahead on that issue.

“We’re lucky that we have a county commissioner who is also a vendor at the Farmer’s Market, Josh Slotnik,” she said. “He is really taking the lead in trying to find a way while working with the health department to find a creative solution for the Farmer’s Market. In fact, the outdoor ice rink, which we call the pavilion, is definitely on the table for farmer’s Market. It’s definitely being explored.”

This year’s Western Montana Fair is scheduled for August 5-9.

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