The 2022 Montana State Fair kicked off on Friday, July 29, and will run through Saturday, August 6. The fair features commercial vendors, horse racing, Big Sky Pro Rodeo, competitive livestock exhibits, creative arts, "fair food" - and of course plenty of carnival rides.
“I swear when I look at the fairgrounds, there's like nothing there, and then the next day there are rides everywhere,” said Ashlee Liedle.
“I look forward to it every year, I’m excited to ride all the fun rides!” said Faith Aldrich.
The Thomas Carnival has been part of the state fair for decades, and carnival president John Hanschen says that as long as the people keep enjoying the fair, the carnival will keep coming back.
“It's between three and four decades, and it's been in two different periods. There was a period during the sixties that we were here, and then we started up again in the late seventies, and we've been going continuously since then.”
The Thomas Carnival puts safety first - starting with quality rides and knowledgeable engineers.
“I've been doing it for 47 years, too, and I'm, I am amazed how good the ladies and gentlemen that put them together, how good they've gotten at it,” explained Hanschen. “We have to be careful. We have to inspect. That's part of the process. Part of the process is to have your eyes and ears open and listening every day, every minute. In case you hear an issue, see an issue, then you deal with it. If you’ve got something that you don't like, then you deal with it and go on to the next.”
Hanschen says that the best part of coming back is seeing the joy on families faces. “You know, I enjoy seeing the families come to a fair and they expect to have a good time and they're excited, too. You know, you hear their voices and part of that's what's fun about our job. As long as you're here, we’re doing the best we can to make it a fun experience for the customers.”
Here are the concert acts scheduled to perform:
- Mini Pop Kids on Saturday, July 30
- The Beach Boys on Sunday, July 31
- Skillet on Monday, August 1
- Cheap Trick on Wednesday, August 3
- Chase Rice on Friday, August 5
- Dwight Yoakum on Saturday, August 6
Among the highlights of the carnival this year:
- The Beach Party: a two-level walk-through, laugh-throughout, funhouse makes its first appearance at State Fair this year. It features bright yellow and blue scenery, wacky obstacles, and a walk-through spinning barrel that evokes the roiling waters of an incoming tidal wave.
- The Star Tower: a gentle but thrilling 90-foot chair swing ride, with many hundreds of color-shifting LEDs combining to create mesmerizing, ever-changing light displays that tower above the fairground. This attraction accepts wristbands and regular carnival ride tickets.
- Black Out: Extreme ride genre - twelve passengers are secured into gondolas that rotate and flip as the central arm launches them up, up - and over! The ride swings up to a highpoint of 80 feet in the air and makes a complete circle as it swings back down in the other direction.
Competitive exhibits at the fair include Creative Arts; Culinary; Fine Arts; Quilting; Photography; and Weaving Wool.
Other features this year include:
- Comedy game show
- Energetic 'Ameri-grass' music
- Hypnotist and mind illusionist shows
- Strolling juggler
- Strolling magician
Pre-Sale Carnival Wristbands
- $25 each to ride either Noon to 5 pm or 6 pm to midnight
- Purchase at the Pacific Steel and Recycling Arena Box Office. On-sale until July 29th at
6 pm (Montana State Fair opens at NOON that day)
Fair Gate Admission Cost
- Adults: 18 to 59 - $8
- Children: 5 and under are free
- Lunch Special: $5 (Available Monday through Friday between the hours of 11 am to 2 pm)
- Seniors: 60 and older - $5
- Youth: 6 to 17 - $5
Click here to visit the fair website for more information and ticket sales.
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