This year’s Western Montana Fair might lack a headline music act, but twang will still fill the air in the evening.
For the first time ever, fair organizers have lined up musicians to perform every night. Johnny Cash crooners, traditional and contemporary country artists and rock musicians will grace the free stage, located near the beer garden and concessions area, to perform both before and after that night’s bull riding or rodeo event.
“Having two nights of bull riding and three nights of rodeo didn’t leave us a night to have a headliner concert,” fairgrounds director Steve Earle said, adding that such a large-scale production is also expensive and competes with other local concerts.
Organizers still wanted music to be a major part of the fair, so they opted to bring in smaller acts every night of the week, he said.
In previous years, only one group performed on Saturday night.
“When it ended, people would just pick up their stuff and head to the car, but we don’t want that,” Earle said. “We want you to continue to enjoy the fair, maybe pick up a snack.”
The bands will perform on stage from 5:30 to 7 p.m. until the bull riding or rodeo events begin. They will pick up their instruments again at 9 p.m. to give people a chance to enjoy a few songs and a beer before they leave.
The beer garden will be open from 1:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., daily.
• Tuesday: Cross Guns, a contemporary country band from Philipsburg.
• Wednesday: Shane Clouse, a country artist from Missoula.
• Thursday: The Cold Hard Cash Show, a Johnny Cash cover band from Missoula and Great Falls.
• Friday: The Doo-Wah Riders, a country band with a cajun twist from Studio City, Calif.
• Saturday: The Copper Mountain Band, a country band from Troy.
Marty Davis, a country and western musician from Oregon, and John Dunnigan, a rock musician from Whitefish, will perform at various times throughout the week.
Earle said people can enjoy the free music from the midway and concessions areas, and those age 21 or older can sit back and sip on a beverage in the beer garden.
Laurie Clark, executive director of the Missoula County Tavern Owners Association, said the beer garden offers domestics such as Miller and Budweiser in addition to several local crafts, including Kettlehouse, Big Sky and Bayern. Wine and malt beverages are also available.
Proceeds from the beer garden will go to a local charity.
This year the Soroptimists are hosting bingo in the beer garden, and there will several celebrity servers including members of the Missoula mixed martial arts Dog Pound team and the Hooters Restaurant waitresses.