NewsMissoula County


Western Montana Fair goes beyond fun, family and food

The Western Montana Fair brings family and community together, but it's also an opportunity for local bands to fundraise.
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Posted at 10:18 AM, Aug 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-11 12:39:36-04

MISSOULA - At the Western Montana Fair, there’s food, there’s family, and there is fun — but there’s also fundraising.

Nachos and cotton candy are fair staples but for Hellgate High School and Big Sky High School, nachos and cotton candy are ways to raise money for their band programs.

Each student from either Hellgate or Big Sky that works with their school at the fair gets a percentage for trips, instrument maintenance, or private lessons.

“It all gets divided up at the end of the week and it goes into our band accounts which we can use for private lessons and our band trip, we're going to New Orleans this spring and just all the different necessities needed for your instruments throughout the year,” Owen Stavish, a senior at Big Sky High School said.

With so many different places for people to buy food, choosing Big Sky truly means something to the students inside the trailer.
“I feel overjoyed that the people are willing to spend their money and help us out because there's other nacho places that you can go to and other food places, but choosing Big Sky really means something that you're helping out the students that are fundraising,” said Stavish.

For Hellgate, the band is only allocated a certain amount of money each year, but cotton candy has been their go-to fundraiser to support students in their musical careers in High School.

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WEB EXTRA, Food for a good cause at Western Montana Fair

“We take a big trip every other year. So it helps to fund their band accounts. Students can work in trailers and make cotton candy to help pad their band account and help pay for things like that. And then any excess we use to pay for new band uniforms and instruments that are needed for the band room,” said Erika Hicky, the President of the Hellgate Band Parents Organization.

The cotton candy trailer also helps students pay for any costs that could arise from different in-state trips for festivals.

Last year, the Hellgate cotton candy trailer had a good year, and this year they’re hoping for the same.

“We had a fantastic year last year so I think we're hoping we do as well as we did last year. Last year the kids went on a trip to Hawaii, yeah, and played in a festival there. This year we aren't going on a trip but we will again next year so we go every other year on a big trip, so it's just a good opportunity for them to have money available to help fund those trips,” said Hicky.

The Western Montana Fair runs from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. through Saturday. Sunday’s hours are from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. There is also a free barn dance every night at 9 p.m. Visit for more information.