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Behind the scene preparations are underway at the Ravalli County Fairgrounds to ensure that everything will be ready for the official fair opening at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, August 28.

The onsite activity began a year ago with planning, facilities upgrades and remodeling. 

Last week, members in 4-H submitted their projects and survived the intense interview process about their items.

Today, Sunday, Aug. 25, from noon to 7 p.m., is the intake of open class items (except for Girl Scout entries, noon to 5 p.m., and floral entries, 3 to 7 p.m. on Monday).

Monday and Tuesday submissions are judged, awarded and arranged; livestock and project animals move in; and food booths are scrubbed, loaded and readied for sales.

For fair week, the gates open at 7 a.m., exhibit buildings at 10 a.m. On Wednesday, most people attend the fair parade at 10 a.m. then drift over to the fairgrounds full of community spirit (and candy).

“Everything is rolling, and we are going to have fair,” said Melissa Seville, fairgrounds manager. “We are trying to frantically get everything done that we want. People won’t notice if we don’t complete every detail on our list, but we will.”

Some of the facilities upgrades and remodeling include new pig pens built by Trapper Creek Job Corps, and paid for by donations and grant money. The swine barn also has a new roof as does the dairy cow/poultry barn.

“On Wednesday, people are going to love the new roofs,” Seville said. “The swine barn is almost unrecognizable to the knowledgeable eye. So much work had to be done to prep the building for the new roof.”

Four new roofs have been installed during Seville’s tenure — Ag Barn, Beef Barn, Swine Barn, Dairy Cow/ Poultry Barn. New asphalt on food row will make a difference.

Seville said fairgoers do pay for admission.

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“In Missoula they have donors and sponsors that cover their admission,” she said. “We just have not found anyone willing to ante up that sort of money, and the public doesn’t want to either. The minor fee we have people pay does get you in, gives you free parking, free entertainment and free rodeo. The food vendors give us money, the commercial vendors give us money and the funds go to support the facility run year-round.”

The fairgrounds do receive a bit of funding from the county.

“We get very little from taxes,” Seville said. “Roads are important, public safety is way more important, the fact that we have a fairground facility for the county to use for events — not so important. But having this huge event be wildly successful is super important.”

She said doing some deferred maintenance has used most of the savings but the money was well spent with new roofs, new pavement and funds for handicapped ramps and raised wheelchair seating at the rodeo grounds that will be ready for the 2020 fair.

“We thought that would be for this year but unfortunately not just any one can build that and we had to have an engineer design. That took up our timeline but we’ll be working with Job Corps over the winter to build that for us,” Seville said. “Then next spring we’ll be showcasing the new area for handicap seating.”

Come enjoy the Ravalli County Fair.

“We hope everyone has a good time,” Seville said. “We have a lot of amazing entertainment included with your fair ticket. You could be here all day and you’ve paid less than what you pay to go to the movies and you’re out of there in about two hours. Here you could stay all day.”

Seville said the numbers of entries are up for exhibits.

“Across the board our numbers are looking fabulous,” she said. “People are excited to be exhibiting at fair. We have great food choices, amazing rodeo action and new royalty. We are trying not to be ho-hum. We want people to come in and think ‘Wow!’”

For more details about the fair including the schedule, fairgrounds map and some precious memories see the Fair Tab insert in today’s Ravalli Republic.

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