MontanaFair's sneak-peak began on Friday, running through the next two weekends. It's the precursor to a unique, socially distanced MontanaFair, which runs August 6-15.
MetraPark has set limit of 3,000 at the fair at any one time. The Mighty Thomas Carnival is set up at about 50 percent and will get up to 60 percent.
Yellowstone County commissioners made the decision to hold the fair with the COVID-19 guidelines.
"Looking at how everybody else is operating, if they started shutting down Walmart, and Sams Club and Costco and things like that, that would be an indication that obviously we should be shutting down as well," said Commissioner Denis Pitman. "That's not happening. What we're asking for is the same behavior at MontanaFair that you would do out at a grocery store or out in the community at any other event that you're doing right now."
"We encourage that folks follow the lead of our employees and they'll have masks on," said John Hanschen, Thomas Carnival, Inc. president. "And then maintain that six-foot distance and wash your hands frequently. We've got hand-washing stations throughout the fair grounds. It shouldn't be wall-to-wall people. It can be more six foot to six foot type interactions. And the rides are spread out and spaced a little bit more than they have in the past. So there's room to negotiate your way around games and around equipment and food."
"There are only three fairs I know of that are going on in the country long about this time. The Deleware State Fair starts (July 23 to Aug. 1). The Northwest MontanaFair begins a week after ours (Aug. 19-23). And then our fair beginning this week. Those are the only ones I know of off the top of my head that are going on. So we know there's going to be a lot of attention and a lot of focus on us. We just want to show how you do a fair right."
Pitman and Massie say 4-H and F-F-A are also major reasons to hold the fair. Those livestock shows will not be open to the public.