Visitors flocked to 2016 Eastern Montana Fair

The 2016 Eastern Montana Fair wrapped up this past weekend, with a car-crushing demolition derby, a spectacular fireworks display and a concert by country music artist Clay Walker.

The four-day event, conducted under mostly sunny skies, drew thousands to the fairgrounds in Miles City. Earlier events included a tractor pull and two nights of professional rodeo.

Fair Director Gail Shaw said that while general gate attendance was down on Wednesday and Thursday at the Fair, possible due to chilly weather, “Friday and Saturday made up for it.”

Attendance was up slightly for Thursday’s tractor pull, and the Clay Walker concert on Friday night attracted a nice crowd, according to Shaw. “The Demo Derby on Saturday always draws in a good crowd,” she said.

However, the second year of the PRCA rodeo at the fair was not well-attended, particularly on Tuesday night. “We’ll try one more year,” said Shaw, “and then take a good long look at it.”

Shaw said the Fair Board is very appreciative of the sponsors who make it possible to bring the more expensive PRCA rodeo to the fair but the Board may make some changes next year. While Shaw said the rodeo was “exceptional” with around 20 National Finals Rodeo qualifiers competing and “really, really good, excellent stock,” attendance has just not been up to the Board’s hopes.

There weren’t enough local competitors to take part in events during the intermission. Shaw says the Board may look for acts to perform during that time to bring in more attendees next year.

Sewing and culinary entries were up and the rest “held their own,” according to Shaw, but there were not enough vendors to open the newer Home Show Building so all the vendors were moved into the Exhibition Hall this year.

One fairgoer said to Shaw that moving into the new livestock pavilion after the old livestock barns was like going from an old rundown hotel into the nicest 21st century Hilton.

Exact attendance numbers and premium results will be published as they become available in the next few days.