Attendance was down but revenue was up this year at the Big Sky Country State Fair, according to Gallatin County Fairgrounds Manager Dennis Voeller.

The five-day event brought in 40,800 people, fewer than the 44,335 in 2018 and the 43,073 in 2017. Voeller attributes the reduction to the cool July weather, the fair providing about 2,000 fewer free tickets than it did in previous years and the Three Forks Rodeo, which was the same weekend.

Despite the drop in attendance, the fair brought in more money. The revenue was $539,600 — $42,600 more than 2018 and $69,400 more than 2017. The increase translated to a profit of $54,500, significantly higher than the profit of $4,100 in 2018 but less than the $76,500 in 2017.

The profit goes toward future fairs. Voeller said it hopefully means he’ll be able to expand and improve the event next year.

Among the highlights of this year’s fair were the new extreme dog show, which consistently filled the stands, and the blacksmithing demonstrations. Both will be back next year.

Voeller said the carnival wasn’t as good this year because it wasn’t laid out well and because equipment issues and difficulty hiring workers caused long lines. The fair may look into using a different carnival vendor in the future.

For next year, Voeller said he is focused on expanding the offerings at the Haynes Pavilion, where local vendors set up booths.

Instead of requiring vendors to sign up for booths for all five days of the fair, he might offer booths for shorter periods, which he hopes would bring in additional vendors. He also might reach out to some vendors at the Gallatin Valley Farmers Market, which is at the fairgrounds on Saturdays throughout the summer but not during the fair, to see if they’d like to participate.

To draw more people to the Pavillion next year, the fair may also schedule performers or musical acts there.

“We have some areas that didn’t go as well as we had hoped. … But overall, we had a good fair,” Voeller said.

Perrin Stein can be reached at 406-582-2648 or at Follow her on Twitter @PerrinStein.

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