There was a ceremonial ribbon-cutting at the Western Montana Fair on Wednesday, the first day of the event, to commemorate the tradition that began in 1897, and is still going strong in 2017, with free admission for the entire five day event.

Missoula County Commissioners Jean Curtiss, Cola Rowley and Dave Strohmaier participated in the ribbon cutting with many of the fair board members and several reporters present to watch. Curtiss looked back on the history of the fair.

"We're excited to have the 2017 fair opened, and this year with free admission," Curtiss began. "A little history first, we've had a fair in Missoula County since 1879. There's been a few times when we didn't have one, with a couple of world wars, the Depression, and one year there was a cholera outbreak. Other than that, we've had a fair every year since."

Curtss explained how the fair board decided on making the fair admission free in 2017.

"We have a committee that helps us out with the fair itself, and they said this year, let's figure out how to make this event free," she said. "They showed us that people are going to spend more money at the fair if they're not paying admission at the gate, so we're thinking it's going to work great. We've had a lot more sponsorships because of that. So, you can come for a couple of hours, go home and come back again as often as you want for as many days as you want."

Curtiss said she is personally excited to take in as many fair exhibits as she can from Wednesday through Sunday.

"That's my favorite part," said Commissioner Curtiss. "I love seeing the flowers that people have grown, the quilts that ladies have made, the culinary exhibits, there are over a thousand entries this year. That's what fairs have always been about."

The fair runs from Wednesday through Sunday. For a complete schedule of events, click here.


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