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MontanaFair expanded schedule helps COVID-19 distancing

Posted at 6:20 PM, Jul 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-26 19:58:41-04

MontanaFair drew about 500 for Sneak A Peak on Friday night.

MontanaFair runs August 6-15.

Sneak A Peak has run on Friday on Saturday. The rest of the schedule includes July 26, 30, 31 and August 1, 2.

"Practically everything has changed in terms of where things are located, how much spacing, the different rules," said Ray Massie, MetraPark Marketing Director. "We're just excited to finally get the chance to have an event again at MetraPark."

Massie said management has been making changes to MontanaFair plans for four months.

"The local health department as well as the carnival operators as well as all our vendors," he said about those involved in the planning. "And we put it all together to put on a fair this year."

The decision to hold the fair started with giving 4-H and FFA kids an opportunity to show their animals.

"That gave us a chance to really get down to the core of what the fair is all about which is agriculture," Massie said. "Ag is essential."

"These kids have been raising animals for a year so that became our primary focus at that point," said Commissioner Denis Pitman, R-Yellowstone County. "Can we actually at least pull that off?"

Pitman said commisioners determined the fair could be done safely even with an increase in COVID-19 test results.

"We're not seeing that catastrophic event following some of these larger things," said Pitman. "As people prepare to go back to school, I look at it as a way of trying to mentally prepare people to re-enter into some of this."

Pitman and Massie say after starting with 4-H and FFA, additions were made including the Mighty Thomas Carnival.

"A lot of cancellations in fairs and so we were available," said John Hanschen, Thomas Carnival, Inc. President. "And so if there are crowds at all, we can spread them out over more time and so we have fewer issues with large groups of people."

Hanschen talked about some of the safety precautions.

"They'll have a mask when they get to the fairgrounds," Hanschen said. "And wash your hands frequently, as often as you can and we've got those machines here. If you want to have rubber gloves to play a game or to have food, they're available here if you don't bring some along. Family groups can ride together on a ride. Ride operators have a mild chemical that cleans the surfaces after each ride."

"We've got a responsibility to provide a clean safe environment," Pitman said. "People have a responsibility to behave appropriately while they're here."

"We normally get 225,000 to 240,000 people at MontanaFair every year," Massie said. "We don't expect that this year. We have a limit on the grounds of 3,000 people at any one time. That way we can handle it, keep you distanced appropriately and keep you as safe as we know how."

Massie suggests buying MontanaFair tickets online.

He also says the MontanaFair Facebook page will have hourly updates on how close attendance is to 3,000.

From the Facebook page: "Green means GO. Yellow means about 500 from capacity. Red means capacity."