Gazette opinion: The ghosts of Billings' future

2014-08-18T00:00:00Z Gazette opinion: The ghosts of Billings' future The Billings Gazette
August 18, 2014 12:00 am

They built it. And they came.

Area promoters and event planners ensured that the only thing hotter than the temperatures recently was the entertainment.

Tim McGraw, Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite, Train, Huey Lewis, Johnny Lang. (And that doesn’t count Paul McCartney in Missoula.)

It’s been a great month for music fans in Yellowstone County. If you haven’t had anything to do in the past month, you’re clearly not trying hard enough.

We’ve been pretty tough on the entertainment scene here in Billings recently — carping about the shows that other places got, lamenting that there weren’t better offerings.

Well, promoters and organizers kind of outdid themselves and, in the process, showed that Billings is the sort of place that supports good entertainment. We — and all of our friends — will show up when the entertainment is quality.

To cap off even better news: The MontanaFair had a brisk pace, hitting the revenue expectations in the first three days of the weeklong event.

A hub of activity

Hats off to the MetraPark folks for what is an amazing effort. The amount of planning and hard work that goes into an event like the fair, which has to have something for everyone, is truly a remarkable feat.

What this all seems to show is that Billings continues to be a hub of activity — not just for Billings and not just for Yellowstone County. It’s not that there’s anything new about that. Billings has been a regional draw for about as long as it’s been around. But, it puts a fine point on the kind of impact that tourism and good entertainment have on our local economy. This isn’t just about quality of life for us, good tourism is a way of life.

This should hopefully also cause some folks to take notice of Billings and Yellowstone County again. This is the kind of place that can sell out shows and draw enough people to make it worth the stop.

Quite frankly, these most recent shows are the ghosts of what Billings could and should continue to be. We need to be the place that gets the big names. We can be the kind of place counted on for sell-out crowds and record-breaking attendance, year in, year out.

We believe that these recent great acts are the first of many other positive things to come. We’ve seen recent positive changes at the Metra, and the Magic City Blues Festival, the Alberta Bair Theatre and many other venues continue to bring in great entertainment.

Hopefully, this wasn’t just a great month or an exception. We hope this is the beginning of what will become normal here.

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