Managers of the Western Montana Fair will be capping g a decade of change this August, as they expect completion of one of the last major upgrades in a decade of change.

With the opening, Missoula County will have wrapped up a major effort to revamp the Western Montana Fairgrounds to be a space that's more "welcoming" and efficient, not just for the annual fair, but other events too.

Coming off a record year for attendance and exhibits in 2023

, fair organizers are equally excited about the new features and returning favorites.

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Grandstanding for the Future

The biggest change on the Missoula County Fairgrounds this year will be the opening of the new grandstands. The new Clause-Bauer Arena is a $5-million dollar project in total, with the new cost of the new concrete structure at $750,000, thanks to the in-kind contribution from Missoula Concrete and Construction.

The new stands, which will provide eye-level seating for the action for some in the seats, replace an aging wooden structure, and form the centerpiece of the new arena which is configured for more than just rodeos.

It should be ready for the fair.

Dennis Bragg photo
Dennis Bragg photo

Art in action

This year, the Western Montana Fair will have the first-ever Open AIR "Artist in Residence" event too. Some of the best artists in the region will be creating works inspired by the fair, with an "open studio" event on August 11th from 11 am to 1 pm.

Butterflies too

In addition to all the new buildings and grounds features added over the past year, this will be the first time fairgoers can also tour the new Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium. It wasn't quite ready for last year's fair but opened in December.

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Missoula County; Western MT Fair
Missoula County; Western MT Fair

Time to enter

This year's fair will run from August 6th to August 11th, which is a full 6-day run, and is themed "Lasso the Moon". Tickets for specific events go on sale July 9th. But once again this year, the fair is sticking with free admission, so you can enter the gates as many time as you like, enjoying the food, fun, and exhibits.

Speaking of exhibits, the entry page is now "live", and allows anyone that would like to participate to fill out their information online for showing.

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Gallery Credit: Chris Wolfe

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