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Free admission expected to boost nonprofit “take” at Western MT Fair

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MISSOULA -

Managers of the Western Montana Fair believe a new plan offering free admission to the fair in August will not only boost attendance, but the amount of money nonprofits will be able to raise at the fair.

The change developed by the Fair Events Committee is aimed at making the fair more marketable, and accessible, by eliminating the $6 gate fee. The county makes about $100,000 a year with the admission fee, but four times that much with concessions and the carnival. So fair managers believe they can make up with the difference by getting more people on the grounds.

And they say that will have a ripple benefit for local non-profits as well, helping the community overall.

“We’re very unique among fairs in that all of our concessionaires are either a nonprofit themselves, or directly support a nonprofit through their fair revenues," said Missoula Fairgrounds Event Manager Tom Aldrich. "So by opening the gates the idea is that the six dollars that someone would normally spend getting into the fair they can spend on a concessionaire and then some, hopefully.” 

It’s estimated $1.5 million changes hands during the fair, which draws 68,000 people over six days.

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