BILLINGS- — In 2021, Montana Fair, which takes place in Billings, had one of its biggest opening weekends in recent memory.
“It was an awesome weekend. Probably the best weekend we have had, at least in the last seven years at Montana Fair. Over 85,000 people showed up, more than a million dollars of income came into the building, and it was just a terrific weekend. We’re already almost halfway to what we would say is a record year for us. We hit records on Friday, we hit records on Saturday, and we were near records on Sunday,” says Ray Massie, the marketing and sales director for MetraPark.
Attractions are what bring in visitors, and Montana Fair has some unique ones, including a llama, alpaca, and goat obstacle course.
The obstacle course has been going on for over twenty years and members of youth 4H groups participate.
“We have to groom them a lot and work with them to get them used to being touched in sensitive spots, and you have to work with them on going over things on the obstacle course,” says Kaya Cardwell, a llama handler.
“One of the hardest parts for me is the tarp because my alpaca has to bend down to go under it, and sometimes she doesn’t want to do that,” says Brayden Cardwell, and alpaca handler.
Training the animals forces you to spend time with them, so the bonds between human and animal can get tight.
“I’ve only been working with her for two years now but like I said, she’s super sweet so she gets attached easy, and I get attached easy, so we’re close,” says Caden Cesims, a llama handler.
The trainers have worked with their animals for years before entering them in the fair.