With gate revenue up four out of the five days of the Northwest Montana Fair, overall revenue increased 13% compared to last year, Fairgrounds Manager Mark Campbell told the county commissioners on Monday.
Campbell offered kudos to the many staff members and stakeholders who had a hand in staging the annual fair.
Wednesday was the only day of the fair when attendance fell below last year’s count, by less than 3%, which Campbell said might be due in part to uncooperative weather. Late-evening rain showers dampened the crowd.
“We had an extremely successful event on many fronts,” Campbell said. “I think the experience of the fair for 2019 was outstanding.”
According to Campbell, all key budget areas were met for the event, which accounts for nearly 75% of the fairground’s total annual revenue. He said meeting budgetary goals for the event takes the pressure off having to make any hard decisions to “cut corners” with other non-fair events.
Campbell said he is still awaiting certain final dollar figures from last week, but said overall the preliminary numbers offer positive insight into the event’s success.
For example, revenue from competitive exhibits is up about 10% from last year, with 7,912 entries and 864 exhibitors. The market livestock sale was pretty much on par with the 2018 fair, accruing about $560,000, compared to about $562,000 last year.
In addition, parking receipts were up more than 3%, which is an all-time high for the fair that Campbell credits to efficiency by parking staff.
Entertainment receipts were off by nearly 6% due to slower concert ticket sales compared to 2018. Regardless, 2019 was the second best year on record for entertainment with “considerable growth of rodeo and demolition derby having excellent crowds,” Campbell wrote in a report to the commissioners. The five days of entertainment raked in about $360,000, accounting for about 85% of total 2019 sales.
Overall, entry ticket sales from Saturday outpaced the other four days by a wide margin, with more than $50,000 in tickets sold that day.
Campbell added that recent fairgrounds projects including new lighting, an entrance at the south end and more were well-received by the public. There were only minor issues that arose during the entirety of the fair, including the breaking of an electrical panel at the Country Kitchen and a water leak at the south restrooms. Medical and transport calls were down significantly and no serious issues were encountered.
“Staff worked very hard and produced an excellent event,” Campbell wrote in the report.
The non-fair event schedule launches on Saturday and Campbell said a busy September is expected.
Reporter Kianna Gardner can be reached at 758-4439 or firstname.lastname@example.org