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Entries in Western Montana Fair (5)


Missoula horse racing decision affirms planning for multi-events center

The Fairgrounds Advisory Committee had rejected horse racing in favor of other uses two years ago(MISSOULA)- Missoula County commissioners' decision to turn down yet another proposal to bring horse racing back to the Western Montana Fair last week affirms the county's plans for future fairgrounds development.

Commissioners voted down a new request from the Western Montana Turf Club to bring races back to the Western Montana Fair on a 2-to-1 vote Thursday.  

2-years ago, the Missoula County Fairgrounds Advisory Committee completed an exhaustive analysis of the fairgrounds' past use, and how it could be redeveloped in the future. That resulted in the recommendation the commissioners abandon the idea of including horse racing in those future plans. 

That led to a spirited debate over possible uses of the proposed multi-use center, with many of the same horse racing supporters making the same arguments we've heard in the most recent pitch. 

But ultimately the commissioners voted for the events center concept as the preferred path for development. 

Those event center plans are still in the process of development as we head into 2016. 


Work begins on feasibility study for Missoula Fairgrounds changes

(MISSOULA)- Work has started on a study which should help community leaders decide what future developments are feasible at the Missoula County Fairgrounds. And that could help refine ideas that have ranged from expanded ice sports to a multi-events center.

For the past three years, the Missoula County Fairgrounds Advisory Committee has been working through a long list of concepts for the fairgrounds' future, from new new facilities like a year around events center, to more updated facilities for agriculture activities and the Western Montana Fair.

However, throughout those discussions the question keeps coming up of what will actually fit on the existing acreage. 

The new report is being handled by a Minnesota-based consultant and is scheduled to wrap up in May. Consultant Rod Markin told the committee Monday the study will not only analyze existing buildings and facilities, but other factors like population growth, and marketing of an events center or other new developments. 

The report is set to be finished in May. 


Three named as Fairgrounds finalists

(MISSOULA)- Two men from Western Montana and a woman from Kentucky are being named as finalists for the job of Missoula Fairgrounds Director.

The county has been shopping for someone to fill the post being vacated by current director Steve Earle, who is retiring after holding the director's job for the past 3-years. 

The three names announced today include Joe Easton of Missoula, Todd Garrett from Whitefish and Pamela Edwards of Lexington, Kentucky. 

Easton has worked as manager for several professional baseball clubs and was an interim director for Missoula Airport and the Adams Center in the past. A University of Montana graduate, he's most recently worked for the Property Assessment Division for the State Department of Revenue and has been a property and real estate developer.

Garrett has been the fishing access site manager for the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and also worked as the Recreation Coordinator for the City of Whitefish and as the interim director for the Whitefish Parks Department. He's also a UM graduate.

Edwards is a marketing and promotions specialist for the University of Kentucky. She's also worked in public relations and special projects for the State Fair of West Virginia and is a Certified Fair Executive. 

The final round of interviews for the three candidates start on Monday, with tours of the fairgrounds and meeting fair staff. The public will have a chance to meet the candidates Monday evening at 5:30 in the meeting room in the basement of the county administration building. 


Earle is staying on to help run the Western Montana Fair this coming month. However the county has been working to bring the new director on board as soon as possible. 


Christian rock concert to kick off Western MT Fair

Jars of Clay will perform in Missoula in August- photo from The Western Montana Fair will start on an energetic note this year with a Christian rock show headlined by the popular group "Jars of Clay". 

Tuesday Missoula County commissioners approved a contract to bring the top-ranked group in for the show which will kick off the fair's entertainment lineup for the opening night of the fair on Tuesday. 

"Jars of Clay" is a Nashville-based band that's been touring for nearly 20-years and has been a top draw at both concerts and with album sales, winning Grammys and other awards  during their career. They're well known for songs that are positive and promote faith without an obvious religious statement. 

Fair Manager Steve Earle told commissioners "Jars of Clay" will headline a show with two additional acts still being negotiated and will be held in the rodeo area, giving people a chance to sit in the grandstands, or bring their own chairs to the infield. Earle says the fair board discussed bringing in a country music act but decided on the Christian rock performance based on the popularity of such acts in the past.

The fair is also negotiating to bring back the popular "dock dogs" competition this year, along with an extra day of canine diving. And Earle says he's hoping to secure a motocross exhibition for one of the evening grandstand shows. 

Commissioners also approved a new contract with artist Monte Dolack to produce a new fair poster this year, the third in a series by the famous artist, as well as unveiling a new fair logo this year. 


County negotiating with new carnival vendor 

Photo by Dennis Bragg(MISSOULA)- Managers of the Western Montana Fair say they’re close to finding a new vendor to provide next year’s carnival. 

Last year’s fair got off to a rocky start when the carnival company, Royal West Amusements and Inland Empire Shows, ran into serious problems getting the rides and games operational. 

Many people were disappointed and angry when many of the rides showed up late for the start of the fair, or weren’t working at all. Even after the fair, the company had some pieces of equipment stranded at the fairgrounds because of mechanical problems. 

Spurred on by dozens of phone calls and emails, Fair Manager Steve Earle went shopping for another vendor. And this week he tells us the county is close to having another carnival company on board. 

Earle says the county was happy to receive responses from four different companies, and is in the process of negotiating a contract with Northstar Amusements of Cody, Wyoming. Northstar is well-known for operating at fairs around the region, starting in Billings 26-years ago. 

The county is offering a 3-year contract with two, 1-year renewal options.

Earle hopes to have a final contract in the next few days.