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Commissioners excited for the future of the Western Montana Fair - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Commissioners excited for the future of the Western Montana Fair

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A $1.6 million plan to change and improve the Missoula County Fairgrounds was approved in May. (MTN News photo) A $1.6 million plan to change and improve the Missoula County Fairgrounds was approved in May. (MTN News photo)
A new feature at the Western Montana Fair this year is free admission. (MTN News photo) A new feature at the Western Montana Fair this year is free admission. (MTN News photo)
Missoula County Commissioner Jean Curtiss (MTN News photo) Missoula County Commissioner Jean Curtiss (MTN News photo)
The big change for this year's Western Montana Fair is free admission. (MTN News photo) The big change for this year's Western Montana Fair is free admission. (MTN News photo)
MISSOULA -

Western Montana Fair stakeholders got the first Ferris Wheel ride of the fair season on Wednesday as part of their ribbon cutting ceremony kicking off a new generation for the fair.

The 138th Western Montana Fair has been met with increased optimism, and excitement as many changes are in store for the fairgrounds in the coming years. The Missoula County Commission approved a $1.6 million renovation plan in May that will kick off a seven year project to restore and add to the fairgrounds.

"Folks are excited about the Western Montana Fair. What we've done in the past and the future. I love the theme -- wagon wheels and Ferris Wheels since 1879," said Missoula County Commissioner Jean Curtiss. "And we've had a fair every year since except for a few things that happened like a small pox epidemic, a couple world wars and the depression but other than that we managed to have a fair every year and folks turn out so we're gonna continue those traditions."

Going forward, the plan is to renovate five buildings, add three new ice rinks, a new maintenance shop and a new rodeo arena. The fair has added a new beer garden and a stage area for this year's fair.

Curtiss says changes like free admission have been on the docket for years, but aggressive direction by new fairgrounds head -- and Missoula City Councilwoman -- Emily Bentley has made these ideas a reality.

"So over the past 50 years Missoula County has asked several groups to look at what should the fairgrounds look like, what should we be doing here? And the community is excited, as are we, to have this master plan that we can implement over the next several years and we really wanna thank the community members but just the community in general for being involved in developing this plan," Curtiss said.

No date set on when most of this work will begin, but  planners should have a design together before the end of the year.

The annual Western Montana Fair continues through Sunday.

RELATED: Western Montana Fair returns to Missoula

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