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Participants rely on the Northwest Montana fair despite coronavirus concerns

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Posted at 6:43 PM, Aug 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-06 15:31:02-04

Flathead County Fairgrounds manager Mark Campbell says they all taking all appropriate safety precautions with the presence of coronavirus, including canceling the Northwest Montana fair's carnival.

Campbell told MTN News that the carnival is typically supplied by North Star amusements from Billings. However, North Start amusements will not participate in the NorthWest Montana Fair this year. Usually, they have over 20 events, but this year because of coronavirus they’ve only had three.

Campbell says they're actively looking for something to replace the carnival this year.

"We abide by the distancing guidelines," he said. "We have established line markers, seat spacer, entry and exit directions, flow patterns and staggered entry and exiting throughout all of our events and activities."

He explained to MTN that masks are required by everyone upon entrance and people who don't have a face-covering will be asked to leave and not return until 2021. Other features like social distancing markers, hand sanitization stations and sneeze guards have been added around the fairgrounds.

There are some participants like the Nickel family that rely on the fair to continue for their income. They run Glacier Shave Ice and says that due to COVID-19 many of their events this year have been canceled.

"We lost at least 50%-to-60% of our events. On a normal year we have two every Tuesday and two every Thursday," said Levi Nickel. "But we only have one on Tuesdays, one of Thursdays and that's every single week. Almost all the baseball, softball and soccer tournaments have been canceled as well as other small events. We had one this weekend that was canceled."

Another is Kalispell resident who's excited about the fair is Manny Barone who is excited to show all of his hard work with 4H and the sheep he's raised.

"When this whole quarantine started I was like cool no school, we can go out and go swimming in the pool and do that type of stuff. Now, we can't honestly and it's kinda a bummer and 4H is kinda the only thing that's gotten me through this quarantine thing," said Barone.

Campbell explained to MTN News that they've also removed the beer garden this year since it didn't allow for appropriate social distancing.