Fair contracts on Tuesday’s commission agenda

Contracts for the upcoming Montana State Fair are on Tuesday morning’s Cascade County Commission agenda.

Commissioners will consider:

  • a $6,300 contract plus lodging from July 26-Aug. 4 with Jeff Martin for “Sleightly Amazing-Seriously Funny Entertainment” that will provide a magic act on the 3Rivers Stage as well as a strolling act throughout the grounds.
  • a $3,500 contract, plus three double hotel rooms from July 31-Aug. 4, for The Loose String Band to provide music on the 3Rivers Stage. There will be two one-hour shows each day between July 31-Aug. 4.
  • a $62,500 contract with Sankey Pro Rodeo and Robinson Bulls to provide a full rodeo stock contractor for the 2018 PRCA Big Sky Pro Rodeo, Aug. 1-4.

The Might Thomas Carnival opens the fair on July 27, running through Aug. 4.

The carnival includes a new ride this summer. The Star Tower is currently being shipped from overseas, but is expected to arrive in time for the fair. The Star Tower is a 90-foot tall chair swing ride.

The carnival also includes Black Out, making its debut in the continental U.S. at the Great Falls fair. The ride puts 12 passengers in gondolas that rotate and flip as the central arm swings 80 feet in the air.

The night concerts start July 29.

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The county uses Romeo Entertainment to find acts for the based on budget and availability.

Availability is the biggest driver for the evening entertainment, Susan Shannon told The Electric earlier this year. Shannon is the Expo Park manager.

Fair attendance, revenues up

“We all want certain things,” Shannon said. “If they’re not available, they’re not available.”

The contract with Romeo Entertainment is approved annually, Shannon said, and runs July 1-June 30. So the contract for the 2018 fair will be included in the county budget that’s currently being developed.

Entertainment is one of the biggest expenses for the fair and Romeo’s contract for the fiscal year that just ended was about $440,000, Shannon said.

The fair is an enterprise fund with a dedicated levy. For fiscal year 2018, which ended June 30, that assessment generated $4,582,725 for Expo Park, which includes the fair.

After the fair, the county will be demolishing the grandstands to replace them with a new set of bleachers, a $2 million-plus project.

County Commission approves more than $2 million in contracts for replacement of grandstands at fairgrounds

The 2017 fair brought in $1.745 million, up 12 percent over the previous year, according to the county. Total paid guests at the 2017 Montana State Fair was 71,388, up from 65,906 in 2016. Total revenue was $394,133 and fair gate admission was up 9 percent from last year’s total of $361,561, according to the county. The night show lineup brought in $499,869 last year.