MISSOULA, Mont. - Across the grounds from the upcoming Rocky Mountain Exploration Center, another building is being renovated, the Home Arts building, near the entrance off South Avenue. It's planned to be finished in time for the fair.
Crews are working to make the building more accessible with ADA upgrades. Then, they'll be adding big storefront windows so folks can look out to the rest of the carnival grounds. They're also getting rid of the chain link fence inside the grounds and renovating Mercantile Alley, the path that connects the Home Arts building to the new historic plaza. There they'll be adding new lights and fresh landscaping.
Fairgrounds Director Emily Brock said they're just getting started.
"I think that what Montanans need to realize is that the fairgrounds have been here for a hundred years, and if we want them to be here a hundred years from now, we have to invest in them," Brock said. "This is a long project. It's not over. We're doing awesome work, but it's really just starting. It's going to take a long time, it's 46 acres."
These renovations are being paid for from revenue through county mills after county commissioners made the fairgrounds a special district years ago.
As of right now, the Western Montana Fair is planned for August 11-15. This year's theme is Hoedown in Midtown.
It will take place as long as vaccination rates continue to go up and active cases go down.
According to requirements put into place by the Missoula City-County Health Department, the vaccine dose administration rate must be at least 600 doses per 1,000 Missoula County residents ages 16 and older, and the new case rate must be less than 25 new cases per 100,000 population for two weeks leading up to the event.