GREAT FALLS — The Montana State Fair begins on Friday, July 30, in Great Falls - but there's a lot of work that has to be done before the gates open.
The event at the Montana ExpoPark features rodeo events, livestock competitions, food and craft vendors, and horse racing - and of course the always popular carnival, with rides and games for kids and adults to enjoy.
John Haschen has been with the Mighty Thomas Carnival for 49 years. He married a girl whose dad was in the business and the rest is history - history that the carnival has lived through.
“This all started with a merry-go-round and a Ferris wheel and in the Depression period there. And the idea was for us to come to the town, the places where people lived.” Haschen says.
After nearly a century in business this carnival has learned to handle just about anything: “We went through the World War II days and we've had a lot of challenges over the years.” he said. “You know with all of our society has been faced with, that every worker and every business has been challenged by this pandemic. I really give the government programs credit, we participated in the payment act that paid our workers when we couldn’t.”
But it has been a trying year: “We work almost all year, we usually are doing something for at least 10 months out of the year.” Hanschen says, “In a normal year we will have around 50 carnivals, this year we had 16.”
A shortened season is not the only thing that the Carnival has had to adjust since March of 2020. Hanschen says that his crew has adjusted as well as they can: “Mask wearing, hand sanitizer, whatever we could do to make sure that we are doing the right thing to ensure we could resist the effects of Covid and the pandemic.”
The restrictions have loosened since then but the carnival crew continues to do everything they can to ensure the safety of their customers.
The Montana State Fair will feature the following headline performers:
- Country music duo Big & Rich with guests Cowboy Troy and DJ Sinister will take the stage on July 31st.
- On August 1st, Terry Fator will perform; Fator is a ventriloquist/comedian, and the winner of the second season of "America’s Got Talent."
- August 2 will feature county music singer Travis Tritt.
- On August 3rd, Christian pop duo For King & Country will take the stage.
- Rock trio Chevelle will perform on August 6th.
- August 7th will feature singer Kodi Lee, the winner of season 14 of "America’s Got Talent."
Visit the Montana ExpoPark website for more information about fair events and activities, and to buy tickets. You can also call 406-727-1481 for ticket information.
You can also learn more about fair attractions on the Cascade County website.