County looking at new talent booking group for state fair

Cascade County Commissioners will be asked during their Feb. 14 meeting to consider approving the services of a new talent booking company for the Montana Expo Park, including the state fair.

The county solicited proposals for talent booking services.

Those requests for proposals don’t appear to have been posted to the county’s bids and RFPs section of the website as they are for public works and the sheriff’s office.

County releases 2022 fair numbers

According to the county staff report, the requests for proposals were mailed to prospective firms within the Rocky Mountain Association of Fairs.

Three proposals were submitted to the county from the current firm Romeo Entertainment Group, as well as NesteLive! and Pepper Entertainment.

The county has used Romeo for years.

A “Cascade County evaluation committee” consisting of the Montana Expo Park manager, marketing and sales manager, event coordinator and administrative assistant, met three times to score the proposals, according to the staff report.

The committee is recommending NesteLive!

Susan Shannon, Expo Park manager, told commissioners during their Feb. 8 work session that the company hasn’t made recommendations for this year’s fair act and there’s no cost associated with the agenda documents for the Feb. 14 meeting.

Shannon said previously the county contracted with Romeo on an annual basis.

Commissioner Joe Briggs said that this action would approve the use of NesteLive! as the booking agency and they’d review the contract for acts separately.

Last year, the county said the fair revenues were $1,882,000 and it was a “near record breaking year, only to be surpassed by 2021.”

County financials in 2021 showed the fair generated $1.8 million in total revenues.

County Commission disbands fair board

The Electric requested the county’s expenses for the fair and according to that document, the total estimated expenses for the 2022 fair were $1,791,784.

That equates to a net estimated profit of $90,326 according to the county financials.

In 2021, the county voted to disband the fair advisory board, which typically reviewed the financials annually.

The night shows generated $547,000 in revenue in 2022, according to the county, for “the greatest producing night show revenue in the history of the Montana State Fair.

County releases fair revenues; fair board says there’s room for improvement [2021]

In July 2022, commissioners approved a $451,000 contract with Romeo Entertainment for the night show concerts that included Mini Pop Kids, the Beach Boys, Skillet, Cheap Trick, Chase Rice and Dwight Yoakam.

In 2021, the Romeo contract was $496,060 and night show ticket revenue, according to financials provided to the since disbanded fair advisory board, was $481,134.