At the Wednesday meeting of the Missoula County Commissioners, they voted unanimously to offer free admission to the Western Montana fair in perpetuity.

Fair Manager Emily Brock Bentley explained how the entrance fees could be eliminated.

“The gate fees in 2016, that’s two years ago, added up to about $100,000, said Brock Bentley. “The fair gets a percentage of all the sales of all the things that happen like the food and the carnival, so because there were so many more people that went to all those things, they spent more, and so the fair recaptured that $100,000, plus some. It was a risk, for sure, but we thought it would pay off, and it did.”

Brock Bentley said the benefits of free admission help everyone at the Western Montana Fair.

“Free admission allowed everyone to come enjoy the fair,” she said. “Especially bug families where that gate charge was such a barrier. The nice thing is that people can come for just an hour and have lunch and then come back the next day, so there’s no pressure to stay all day just to get your money’s worth. It was a great success, and we look forward to having the same kind of success this year.”

Brock Bentley said one of the featured attractions at this year’s fair will be in the Commercial Building.

“The big thing that we are doing this year that we think is so awesome is the ‘Made Fair’, where the entire Commercial Building is going to be filled with local hand-made crafts from local artists,” she said. “When people go into the Commercial Building they will see vendors from Montana selling their local crafts.”

Brock Bentley said the racetrack is gone and in its place will eventually be a new livestock center for 4-H and FFA and agricultural education programming, in addition to a new rodeo arena.

The 2018 Western Montana Fair will be August 7-12 at the Missoula County Fairgrounds, and…admission will be free in perpetuity.