Last week, the Western Montana Fair took place at the Missoula County Fairgrounds, a long time coming after having to pretty much cancel the fair in 2020 due to COVID. I was there a couple of times (you can read about how I ended up losing a bunch of my money at the fair right here), and it was great to see people able to gather together again, going on rides, eating fair food, heading to the rodeo... and apparently, drinking a lot.

Yes, the Western Montana Fair broke many records this year - it had its highest-ever attendance rate, with over 93,000 people stopping by the fairgrounds over the course of five days. The carnival made over $500,000, its highest-ever total. Food concessions grossed over $600,000. And turns out, people really enjoyed drinking at the fair in 2021 - alcohol sales at the fair increased 46% over 2019's fair, making over $62,000 in revenue (not including the portion of that revenue that goes directly to the vendors).

So what accounts for this sudden spike in alcohol sales? According to fairgrounds director Emily Brock, because of the pandemic, they removed the fences to the beer garden this year. That meant that people didn't have to stay in a designated spot to drink their beer, and were more free to move around. The appeal of getting a drink but not being stuck in one place definitely seems like a motivating factor here.

With numbers like that, I'm betting the fair will probably continue that practice in the future. Were you a fan of the freedom given to beer drinkers at the fair this year?

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