County fair review

Livestock auction brings record sales, carnival disappoints
Casey S. Elliott
Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Livestock sales at this year’s Beaverhead County Fair may have set records, and the carnival was not up to snuff, fair organizers said.

Fair board member David Schuett told the fair board Sept. 14 the sale brought in about $190,000 more than the prior year. There were also about 50 new buyers stepping up this year.

“I’m not sure if it was a record. I know we’ve had higher champion sales, but we’ve never sustained (the prices) with the number of animals we had,” he said. “The last page (of animals) brought as much as the first page.”

The majority of buyers were present for the sale rather than online, he added. That will be factored into discussions for next year’s auction, as to whether the fair will have online sales again.

“If we can be in person, it seems like that’s where all the action was,” he said.

Fair admissions were pretty close to a typical fair year, board member Keeley Fitzgerald said, though vendor rent was down from a typical year.

“I knew that was going to happen,” she said. “We had the same amount of food vendors, but we just didn’t have a lot of the smaller vendors we usually have.”

The carnival, however, was a disappointment, though Fitzgerald said she kind of expected that, since the fair had never used this particular carnival vendor before. The usual carnival vendors either went out of business or were otherwise unavailable.

“In fairness to her (the carnival organizer), she didn’t realize how Montana carnivals were,” Fitzgerald said, noting the carnival vendor usually sets up in Arizona and California – bigger markets overall. “I think we’re the only fair that was probably disappointed in them. They didn’t bring as many rides to our fair, a few broke down at their last one. I think she had carnival fatigue by the time she got to us. We were the last fair they were going to in this area before going back home to California, so a lot of her rides left and joined carnivals that are larger.”

Other than that, the fair went pretty well, she said.

The fair board hopes to upgrade electrical outlets for next year’s fair, and hopefully re-pave some areas.