Big crowds, good weather grace Eastern Montana Fair

Abe Winter
Star Staff Writer

So Eastern Montana Fair attendees, which special attraction do you think attracted the most spectators?

Here are your choices:

A. Rodeo (2 nights)

B. Tractor pull.

C. Aaron Tippin concert

D. Demolition Derby

If you guessed Saturday afternoon’s Demolition Derby, which has been the leader in attendance for many years, you’d be wrong.

It did attract a crowd of about 1,850, but the country music star was a tad more popular this year with 2,027 at the grandstand Friday night.

The rodeo, by the way, had 800 on Tuesday and 950 on Wednesday (that’s a 1,750 total) and the tractor pull on Thursday had 550 spectators.

All told, the four-day Eastern Montana Fair was a success, according to fair manager Gail Shaw.

She said between 12,000 and 13,000 paid their way into the fairgrounds, a solid number and not far behind the record of 16,000 in 2015. The latter number was attributed to the oil boom.

“The economy was pretty good (in 2015),” Shaw said.

The attendance didn’t include the vendors and 4-H exhibitors.

“It’s a little hard to figure the exact numbers,” Shaw said. “But it was good and the weather was great.”

The third visit by the PRCA rodeo to the fair drew a lot of positive comments, Shaw said. “We worked really hard on the rodeo and it was really good,” Shaw said.

Will there be another? “We did have a short meeting with the stock contractor and we have a month to make a decision,” Shaw said.

The Tippin concert, followed by fireworks, also produce a highlight. That was when Tippin opened a box and, while continuing to sing, assembled a bike in about 3 minutes and then presented it to the Watts family — Blaine, Becky and Trevor — as a donation to the Marine-sponsored Toys for Tots program in Miles City.

The fireworks after the concert were well-received.

“The fireworks … every year they’re good and every year they get better,” Shaw said.

The number of volunteers, she said, makes the fair go. Most are from Miles City and some from Kinsey.

“There’s just so many people who help and a lot of them are volunteers,” she said. “I am just so grateful for all the people who help make it a success.”

The carnival, complete with its rides, contributed a percentage of its proceeds to the fair.

“Over the years we’ve gotten between $14,000 and $16,000 each year,” Shaw said.

Although numbers weren’t released, a Thomas Carnival spokesman said it came within $5,000 of its best visit to Miles City.

The livestock exhibits — both 4-H and open — were a success. Sales of 81 hogs, 51 steers, 32 sheep, four goals and three chickens were were reported. Decorated cakes also were sold at the auction on Friday.

(Contact Abe Winter at or 406-234-0450.)

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Please see the the photo gallery Fair 2017 for more photos)