Fair kicks off Wednesday

Changes are coming to the 2014 Eastern Montana Fair, but the important things, like animals and fair food and fun, will be unchanged. To work around scheduling difficulties and retain the Mighty Thomas Carnival, the Fair will run from Wednesday, August 20 until Saturday, August 23 instead of the usual Thursday through Sunday schedule.

On Monday, Fair manager Gail Shaw said participants are already arriving at the fairgrounds, including the new petting zoo, which lost its canopy at the Baker Fair during a severe storm last weekend. In spite of that, Shaw said the operator was cheerful and looking forward to this weekend.

“It’s going to be a really great petting zoo, I think,” Shaw said, noting that it’s a new show this year.

As far as overall fair preparations, Shaw said, “It’s going well. The vendors are already arriving.”

She said the 4-H interview judging went well and finished in good time.

“There were lots of 4-H kids, and that’s what the fair is about,” Shaw said.

Organizers have a little less time to get ready with the fair’s Wednesday start, but she said “Everybody’s pulling pretty hard,” and it’s coming together well.

There is some concern about the weather with possible storms forecast, but generally cooler weather will make strolling the Midway more pleasant than in some scorching hot years.

The gate fee is $3 this year, with $1 going to defray the cost of the entertainment, $1 going to the improvement of the grounds, and $1 going to help purchase machinery for grounds maintenance. Another minor change is this year’s talent show, which invites back previous performers for a free concert with no judging element.

The free stage entertainment is sponsored by U. S. Bank, Sanjel and Optiblend Industries. The Daily Information Center located by the water park fountain is sponsored by Watts Kennedy Insurance.

All advance tickets for the carnival, tractor pull, rodeo, concert and demolition derby will be available at the Miles City Area Chamber of Commerce office until 4 p.m. Thursday.

The Fair Book, entry tags and registration sheets are available at the chamber office and the Custer County Extension office. All advance night show ticket prices include the gate fee.

Major events include the carnival’s wristband days on Wednesday and Saturday, the tractor pull on Wednesday, the NRA rodeo and fireworks on Thursday, the Lorrie Morgan concert on Friday and the demolition derby on Saturday.

Traditional favorites include the youth pet show and free stage acts, the Stockman Bank Stick Horse Rodeo and the petting zoo.

And, of course, there will be a wide variety of food and other vendors, along with area businesses and agencies, greeting fair-goers through the week.