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Fairgrounds see steady increase in attendance, events

December 24, 2018 GMT

Newly released data from the Flathead County Fairgrounds in Kalispell shows the property has experienced a spike in both overall attendance and the number of events held at the facility over the last five years.

The report separates the numbers into two different categories - the Northwest Montana Fair, deemed one of the largest events of the year, and non-fair events.

Since 2013, attendance for non-fair events has risen from 75,607 to 78,107 attendees and the number of event days, defined as any time an event is occurring in any one of the fairground’s multiple facilities, grew from 303 to 549 events.

A press release contributed the long-term growth to added event diversity, with Fairgrounds Manager Mark Campbell stating, “the wide variety of events held at the fairgrounds represents the many different interests of the community.”

New events are added to the fairgrounds event schedule almost every year. Most recently, the Little Red Truck Vintage Market show was tacked onto the list of ongoing craft shows, motorcycle shows, 4-H activities, farmers markets, rodeos and more.

Most notably, the 58-acre property is home to the popular Northwest Montana Fair.

However, this year, the 2018 multi-day festival experienced a slight decrease in attendance from the previous record-breaking year, dropping from 79,492 to 78,107 fair-goers.

But according to the fairgrounds Office Coordinator Mark Niemeyer, the decrease in attendees from 2017 to 2018 doesn’t warrant any concern for future years.

“Overall the growth has been steady and we were only slightly off from the previous year,” Niemeyer said.

Regardless of the decline, the August event still accounted for nearly 43 percent the entire fairground attendance for 2018.

“Utilizing this community-owned asset throughout the entire year allows the fairgrounds to meet the space needs of our community, provide educational, social and entertainment options that enrich local and regional residents, and effectively use county tax dollars,” Campbell said.

Recent uses of tax dollars include adding paved streets in the facility and the new handicap access ramp in front of the grandstand buildings Campbell stated the taxes will continue to “enhance the property for the long-term.”

Reporter Kianna Gardner can be reached at 758-4439 or kgardner@dailyinterlake.com