The Monster Truck Insanity Tour and Blistered Earth bring a Metal Finale to the Western Montana Fair on Sunday, August 12

The Monster Truck show kicks off at 4pm on Sunday, August 12 with Blistered Earth's performance on the Stampede Stage following immediately after. 


The Monster Truck Insanity Tour is the motorsports show Fair-goers have been asking for. With pro monster truck drivers with plenty of cars to smash, freestyle motocross with huge ramps for backflips, and exciting local tough truck races with a new head-to-head format, the crowds are sure to have a great time! In the twilight of the beloved Demolition Derby, Missoulians deserve a memorable show and great care was taken in selecting Live A Little Productions to produce the new show. 


Famed Metallica tribute band, Blistered Earth, will cap off the metal finale of the Fair with an exclusive free performance on the Stampede Stage immediately following the Monster Trucks. Blistered Earth not only looks and sounds just like 80s thrash-era Metallica, but even performs with Metallica's actual instruments. Metallica donated an entire set of gear to Blistered Earth after their trailer was stolen in Portland last year.  




2018 Free Music Lineup Revealed!

The Western Montana Fair has revealed the 2018 Stampede Stage headlining music lineup! All musical performances on the Stampede Stage are Free Admission with a great showcase of rising local stars! 

Please visit for all the details! 

Free music is sponsored by First Security Bank, The Missoulian, and all of the Free Admission Fair sponsors! 




Montana-born and raised, Chance McKinney delves into our relationships to work and how we perceive the act of making a living with his forthcoming collection of music. An EP titled I is expected later this spring, and across its steely landscape, he constructs what he dubs “industrialized country."

The independent singer/songwriter who won CMT's Music City Madness and has been on tour with Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley, Lynyrd Skynyrd and many more had a fan base that launched #DownToGetUp into the Top 50 on iTunes Country Album Chart almost immediately.




Mudslide Charley is a Missoula Montana born band that delivers house rockin' roots music. Marco Littig (Mudslide) has led the band through many evolutions. From Its first sparks in 2004, the band continued to ignite and morph over the years into the now five piece powerhouse of diverse musicians and songwriters. They draw inspiration from a more antiquated era when Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker first fused the rough and rural vibes of southern acoustic blues with modern electric instruments.




From humble beginnings, Shodown has matured into one of the best bands in Montana. With a diverse play list and fun style that blends bluegrass, western swing, traditional and modern country, and 70’s/80’s/90’s rock-n-roll, Shodown has been a widely popular Montana band for many years.

Most arrangements feature a rich 3-part harmony mixed with driving guitars and/or fiddle, a solid and grooving rhythm section, and more fun than you can shake a stick at. This is a band that makes you get up and dance! 




Melissa Forrette grew up in the mountains in California, before moving to Montana at 18 years old to work on ranches. While doing so, she found inspiration to start writing music. Her uncle gave her his old guitar in 2009 and she hasn't put it down since. Melissa has traveled to Nashville several times and worked with some of the best of the best. Growing up on good country music and with idols like Merle Haggard, she tries to stay true to her roots and make songs that can’t be confused with anything else but country. 




Southwest Montana (Bozeman, Livingston area) is the place that Little Jane & the Pistol Whips hang their hats. Born and raised in Southwest Montana, Little Jane’s (aka. Ashly Jane Holland) original songs, dress, and demeanor carry what one would envision Montana to look and sound like. A little bit rough around the edges and a lotta bit warm and inviting. The band was formed in 2008 and is embarking on their 10 year anniversary THIS year!




Formed in December of 2009, Blistered Earth is the best Metallica tribute band on the planet (we checked!). Playing classic songs ranging from 1983's "Kill Em' All", to 1991's self-titled "Metallica" this tribute pays it's respects to one of the greatest heavy metal bands of all time with the raw energy, showmanship, look and song selections that die-hard Metallica fans want to see and hear, they are the ultimate tribute to Metallica! 

The Western Montana Fair will always be Free Admission

Today was an important day in the history of the Western Montana Fair. The Board of Missoula County Commissioners (BCC) voted unanimously to uphold Free Admission for the Western Montana Fair for 2018 and in perpetuity. This means the event will provide free access to the entire community for years to come, regardless of one's socioeconomic status. 


Art by Josh Quick 


Upon the approval of Free Admission, the 2018 Fair's official poster was revealed. Local artist Josh Quick, who earned three design awards for his 2017 Fair artwork, was retained to design a new poster around the 2018 theme, "Pioneering the Future." It represents both the redevelopment projects that will transform the Fairgrounds and the spirit of innovation, entrepreneurship, and creativity that has always been a part of the Fair.

The Missoula County Fair Event Advisory Committee voted unanimously to recommend Free Admission to BCC during their May meeting. Free Admission at the 2017 Fair was a significant financial risk after years of relying on gate fees to help sustain the event. The proof of the concept is in the numbers, though, as the surge of increased attendance and revenues in other categories exceeded all expectations. 


More about Free Admission:

The Fair’s budget is in a much better place with the Free Admission model with the net cost for the program decreasing significantly. Revenues were increased in every category (aside from gate fees, of course) and attendance also swelled from an estimated 66,000 in 2016 to 87,000 in 2017 with an equally significant increase in rodeo attendance. The most meaningful number, perhaps, is the half-million dollars grossed by the Fair’s numerous nonprofit concessionaires. The Fair takes a 17-20% cut of those revenues while the remainder directly supports the programs of those community benefit organizations. When the Free Admission concept was presented in 2017, it stated a 10% increase in concessions, carnival tickets, and other major revenue sources would make the model work. We are happy to report that those increases surpassed all expectations with 20% or higher increases in most revenue categories and more than doubled revenues for parking and beer garden sales.

Free Admission is based on a very simple theory: if you make access to the Fair free, more people will attend, likely more than once, and will spend the money they saved at the gate on Fair food and fun. The model proposed prior to the 2017 Fair included this idea but also other changes to make it work well.  Security was increased as the hype for the event built up throughout the summer and large numbers were anticipated. Missoula County Sheriffs Office, Missoula Police Department, and the newly added layer of private security contributed to a very safe Fair with necessary security increases. Overall personnel costs were still significantly lowered, however, as integrating money room operations with the Fair office, increased volunteerism, and careful use of payroll hours by Fairgrounds managers, all brought the cost of labor down.

Other happy problems sprung up with the new model. Vendors ran out of food after only the first few days, the Fair office ran out of cash for change, and many other operational details needed to evolve quickly. Those factors were dealt with adeptly by Fair staff, vendors, and volunteers, and we made it through. In 2018, we feel even more ready. Fair staff continuously monitors expenses and operations to ensure efficiency and a reliably awesome event and will continue to do so with the long-term Free Admission model.  

Free Admission was the sensation of the summer in 2017, earning back the Fair’s status as the largest and most important summer event in Western Montana. The event emerged as a regional leader in the industry through Free Admission, too. The Rocky Mountain Association of Fairs (RMAF) awarded the Western Montana Fair four awards at the Fall 2017 conference, including the Barbara Renner Award for Innovation. The award recognized our Fair as an important game-changer in the evolution of fair and festival industry. In an industry so peculiar and full old habits, such an award is especially meaningful and in the spirit of Missoula County’s values.


Fair Exhibit Guide (Premium Books) Available Now!

The Exhibit Guide for the Western Montana Fair (Aug 7-12) 2018 are now available in the Fair box office and most grocery stores, retailers, and Fair sponsor locations.

Grab yours today and look it over closely as some departments and deadlines have changed.  

Download the interactive electronic version at

We have exciting things coming to the 2018 Fair and we can't wait to have you along for the ride!

Groundbreaking Ceremony to Mark Fairgrounds Redevelopment

Join County Commissioners and Fairgrounds users at 9 a.m. Tuesday, May 1, to celebrate the redevelopment of the Missoula County Fairgrounds.
The ceremony, which will kick off Phase I of redevelopment, will be held at the racetrack, and folks should enter through the rodeo grandstands on the southside of the Fairgrounds. The redevelopment will begin with demolition of the racetrack, which will make space for a new rodeo arena and grandstands, livestock center, parking lots and open space during the later phase of project. The County will repurpose the specialized equine dirt used for the racetrack surface by transporting it to the Big Sky Horse Park just west of Missoula.
Phase I will cost $20 million – of which about $15 million has been funded – and is expected to be complete within five years. It includes new utilities, renovations to historic buildings, a new maintenance shop, a new Learning Center to house the County Weed District and 4-H, perimeter landscaping and streetscaping, more than a mile of new trails and 10 new acres of open space. Future phases include 19 total acres of open space and the new livestock center, rodeo arena, ice rink and exhibit center.
"Our community cares deeply about this historic property,” said County Commissioner Jean Curtiss. “We share memories of this special place that brings together the best of Missoula – urban, rural, young and old. It reminds us of where we came from and gives us hope about where we are headed. The Fairgrounds were once on the edge of a small town and served to showcase our agriculture. Now they are surrounded by a vibrant city and continue to connect us to our roots as we create new memories.”

The Missoula County Fairgrounds mission is to promote agriculture, education, culture, recreation, and community connection and to reflect the beauty and history of Western Montana. Our mantra is to be the physical space that embodies the diversity of Missoula County itself, connecting our urban vibrancy with our rural heritage, midtown with the neighborhoods, and tradition with innovation.

Tom Aldrich
Public Feedback Needed for Missoula Fairgrounds Design Guidelines

We need your input to ensure redevelopment meets your vision. With the planning process complete, we have developed Design Guidelines to identify the function, intent, and character of specific design elements - with the goal of ensuring consistent, high-quality design and clear expectations as the Fairgrounds are renovated and redeveloped. The Board of County Commissioners is scheduled to open the public hearing to begin taking public feedback on those guidelines Thursday, April 26 at 2:00pm in the County Courthouse.

We have also begun preliminary design development, including schematic design of the grounds, a study of the existing ice rinks, and collaboration with the County Weed District and Extension Office on a new Learning Center. The resulting Schematic Plan (below) refines the site layout and provides detail for site circulation, parking, landscaping, and building location.

Don’t miss this important opportunity to weigh in on aesthetics. Design Guidelines are integral to creating a cohesive campus with consistent character. They will apply to all new buildings, restorations, and site work at the Fairgrounds. We need to ensure they are perfect and your thoughts are incorporated.

We couldn’t have gotten where we are today without your patience and support. Stay tuned for an announcement about our ground-breaking ceremony in a few weeks!

Tom Aldrich
Check out the new Missoula Stampede Rodeo Logo!

Logo by Josh Quick


Talented Missoula artist, Josh Quick has designed a brand-new logo for the Missoula Stampede Rodeo.

Mr. Quick designed the current Western Montana Fair artwork in 2017, winning three design awards at the Rocky Mountain Association of Fairs convention in November. Only fitting, then, that he created a rodeo logo to match.  

The historic PRCA-sanctioned event will celebrate it's 103rd year this summer, August 7-11, 2018! It is produced by Sankey Pro Rodeo. Tickets are available now. 

rodeoTom Aldrich
Missoula Fairgrounds Launches All-New Website

Photo by Josh Homer

The Missoula County Fairgrounds and Western Montana Fair have launched an all-new website. The new site was built as part of efforts to better reach stakeholders, provide more meaningful content, and to better represent all the volunteers, vendors, service clubs, sponsors, nonprofits, athletes, and entertainers who make the Fair great. As most Fairgoers access the site on their mobile devices, the new layout will be mobile-friendly and serve as an easy-to-use guide for going to the Fair. The new website can be reached at the same URL as always, or

New Features:

  • All-new design with simplified menus and clean layouts.
  • Newsfeed-oriented homepage with regular updates and news posts.
  • Mobile-friendly reflexive template that works great for planning your outing at the Fairgrounds. 
  • All-new feature pages for fair food with bios and menus provided by the nonprofit concessionaires.
  • All-new feature pages for each exhibit department, with Superintendent bios and easier to access information for exhibit entries and blue ribbon winners.
  • All-new events feed with up-to-date details on all Fairgrounds events.
  • All-new Future of the Fairgrounds page to provide up-to-date information for Fairgrounds Redevelopment and to serve as a portal for the public feedback process.
  • Clean, user-friendly content pages for all Fair programming.

Upcoming Features

  • A new tickets page, serving as a guide to all the best discount deals and promos for Fair tickets.  
  • Fair history page with great photos and stories about the event’s 139-year history.
  • Fair art page with a gallery of all known Fair posters from past to present.
  • Further refinements to speed, layout, and usability on all platforms.

As with any evolution in technology, the new site will be continuously updated and refined as staff are provided feedback from stakeholders. The Fair community is encouraged to pay a visit to the website and provide any feedback they like through the form on the about page.


Fair summer internships are now open!
 Photo by Tom Aldrich 

Photo by Tom Aldrich 

The Missoula County Fairgrounds and Western Montana Fair are hiring  seasonal summer interns for the 2018 Fair season.

Interns will learn a great deal about marketing and event management while earning great pay at $12.15/hour. Applicants can look forward to an exciting and fun summer as part of a great team working hard to enhance the historic Western Montana Fair.

Applications are due by May 1, 2018 for positions running June-August. Work study preferred but not required. 

Find out more and apply at

or apply through University of Montana's Internship page,

Tom Aldrich
Sponsorships are now available for the award-winning Western Montana Fair, Aug 7-12, 2018! ​​​​​​​

With a new fundraising goal of $100,000 set for 2018, Fair staff aim to shatter the already-high benchmark of $76,534 set in 2017 for cash sponsorships. Sponsor dollars directly support the continuation of Free Admission and ever-increasing quality in Fair programming. With over 86,000 attendees spanning all Western Montana demographics, as well as the great in-kind media support, Fair sponsorships are of incredible value to local businesses. 

The 2018 Fair is already taking shape to be one for the ages, as new community partnerships are being forged to bring better and better content to the event. We hope you'll join us as we Pioneer the Future at the Western Montana Fair! 

Tom Aldrich
MADE Fair Montana teams up with the Western Montana Fair, August 7-12, 2018.
 Logos by Josh Quick

Logos by Josh Quick

The new MADE Fair Marketplace at the Western Montana Fair will showcase over 65 artisans per day in the historic Commercial Building. Local & regional artists and makers are encouraged to apply to be a part of this new endeavor and will be juried by a panel to make sure the curated collection of artisans represent Montana’s best of the best. In addition to featuring artists, there will be three additional booths: a local non-profit, an artist in residence, and a make & take zone. 

This new partnership represents the latest move in a commitment to quality programming for the Western Montana Fair, connecting local and regional artisans to Fair stakeholders in a fun and meaningful way. As site redevelopment begins, this partnership reaffirms the Missoula County Fairgrounds as an important cultural center in Western Montana.  

As with the Fair itself, the MADE Fair Marketplace will be free admission every day with lots of shopping and interactive activities.

Applications for all Fair vendors are now open.


Registration info for vendors:

Applications for MADE fair Marketplace:

Applications for other commercial vendors:

Applications for food vendors: