"Black Out" at MontanaFair

People ride Black Out at MontanaFair on Aug. 13. 

The thrills — a few jarring, but most of them exhilarating — will continue for at least five more years for visitors at MontanaFair.

On Tuesday, Yellowstone County Commissioners signed a five-year contract extension with Austin, Texas-based Mighty Thomas Carnival. The contract, which began with a request for proposals and included a committee recommendation, runs through the 2023 MontanaFair.

This year is the company's 39th at MontanaFair — two more years than the career span of Bill Dutcher, MetraPark's general manager.

"They've provided ethical, friendly and safe partnership through all the years of various county commissioners, board members, staff and auditors," Dutcher said. "Every single person I have mentioned has loved working with Thomas Carnival. I can't say enough how pleased I am."

As part of the agreement, the company agrees to pay MontanaFair 26.5 percent of all ride, game and food concessions, as well as 10 percent of all extreme ride admission sales. The minimum payment each year will be $310,000.

Each year the MontanaFair general manager, in consultation with Mighty Thomas Carnival management, will determine which two extreme rides to feature that year.

Under the agreement, the company must provide MontanaFair with advertising and promotional material “suitable for use in television, radio and newspaper advertising” at least 90 days before the fair’s opening. The company also agrees to present “a combination of riding devices, sideshows, carnival games and food concessions” during fair dates and a list of “riding attractions and their capacities” at least 60 days prior to the fair’s opening.

MontanaFair grants Mighty Thomas Carnival exclusive rights to present amusement rides and carnival games at the fairgrounds during fair dates, and agrees not to contract a carnival to appear on the fairgrounds during the 120 days prior to each year’s fair without permission from the company. In return, the carnival company agrees not to contract to appear with another sponsor within 100 miles of Billings without permission from MontanaFair.

Mighty Thomas Carnival agrees to “present high-quality rides, games and food concessions” and to carry at least $2 million in liability insurance.

Either party can cancel the contract with 30 days’ notice. If both parties agree, the contract can be extended through 2028.

Sights and sounds from MontanaFair 2017

Sights and sounds from MontanaFair 2017

The rides have been packed away, the animals and sold, and cowboys on to the next rodeo. 

Here are photos and videos from MontanaFair 2017.

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City Government Reporter

City reporter for The Billings Gazette.