MontanaFair

The gates to the carnival during MontanaFair in MetraPark on Friday, Aug. 11.

REBECCA NOBLE, Gazette Staff

Heading into midweek of MontanaFair at MetraPark, attendance is down and revenue is off from last year’s record despite good weather and smooth operations.

MetraPark officials said Tuesday the fair, which generates about one-third of MetraPark’s operating revenue, is still putting up good numbers despite a disappointing night show turnout.

Concessions, carnival and gate revenue also were down from last year’s numbers.

But 2016 was a record-breaker for MontanaFair, which racked up record food sales of more than $1 million from 226,333 fairgoers over the nine-day event.

MontanaFair, which attracts about 230,000 people, is Montana’s largest event.

“The night shows just didn’t draw as well for whatever reason," marketing director Ray Massie said. "It was a surprise.”

And the night show success tends to drive the rest of the fair revenues, he said.

This year’s night show entertainment opened on Friday with rockers Pat Benatar and Melissa Etheridge, followed by pop band Paramore on Saturday and concluding with comedian Bill Engvall on Sunday night.

The Benatar/Etheridge concert drew about 4,000 people, while Paramore had 3,300 fans and Engvall attracted about 3,100 people for a total of about 10,300 people. That is about half the number of people who came to the 2016 night shows, which drew more than 8,000 people to see the comedian Gabriel Iglesias, known as “Fluffy.”

Massie said if anyone would have told him earlier this year what the 2017 night show attendance numbers would be, “I’d said you were crazy.”

Total night show revenue for 2017 is about $221,000 while 2016 was about $396,000.

Supercross in the Grandstands was the Tuesday’s night event while PRCA Rodeo will finish the fair’s run on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Total concession revenue for MetraPark, which includes its percentage of beer sales and midway concessionaire sales, totaled about $122,000 as of Monday, which is off about $34,000 from the same time last year.

For carnival revenue through Monday, MetraPark’s 40 percent share totals about $156,000, which is down about $30,000 from 2016.

And total paid gate admissions as of Monday were about $168,000, or off about $31,000 from last year.

Total daily attendance through Monday was 95,483 people or about 5,863 fewer people than in 2016.

Total revenue so far is about $702,000, which is down about $257,000 from last year.

Despite the off numbers, MetraPark remains upbeat.

“I’m still pleased with the numbers overall," Massie said. "You can’t have a record every year."

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Federal court and county reporter for The Billings Gazette.