The Western Montana Fair kicks off this Tuesday, August 7, in Missoula and the biggest news for the public is that there will be no entry fee to enter this year. The no entry fee policy began last year and Fairgrounds Director Emily Brock says they saw a 24 percent spike in attendance and around 86,000 visitors. She expects more visitors this year.

“I think we’ll probably get around 90,000 this year, so that will be good, any more than 100,000 and we’re probably really pushing capacity,” Brock said. “The exciting jump for us last year was, especially, the non-profit concessionaries that brought in over $500,000 to the community and that was up 15 percent so we are looking forward to seeing those numbers maintained.”

One of the biggest changes this year is that the big Commercial building on the fairgrounds will actually be used for commerce.

“The other big draw that we have this year, that I think will definitely bring people in is the Made Fair marketplace in the Commercial Building. So, the Commercial building is really getting back to its roots in local commerce and the entire building, both floors, will be filled with local and regional artists selling their crafts.”

There are some other improvements throughout the park, including more sitting areas, more shade, and more fire hydrants. The western Montana fair will run from today through Sunday, August 12.

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