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Fair board
History of the fair Fairgrounds rentals Free Stage Entertainment Carnival Night shows Contact the fair office or fair board

A brief history of the Rosebud County Fairgrounds and the Rosebud-Treasure County Fair 

The Rosebud County Fair began in 1906, and with the exception of two years, it has been summer's biggest celebration for thousands of residents of Rosebud and Treasure Counties and the surrounding area. In 1934, the fair was canceled due to drought, grasshoppers, and crickets. German prisoners-of-war occupied the fairgrounds in 1945, so the fair was also canceled for that year. In 2020, due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, the fair was still held, but in a much-abbreviated format.

Our historic exhibition hall was built sometime in the early part of the 20th century. The current grandstand, concession facilities and restrooms were built in 1975. 

In the early days, the fair was held after harvest, in September. Later, it was moved to August and finally around 1990, to its current late-July time.

Thoroughbred horse racing, variety shows and rodeo were the primary entertainment until the 1980s. Since then, top-name

entertainment has been highlighted with grandstand night shows, featuring such stars as Charley Pride, the Bellamy Brothers, Sylvia, Sawyer Brown, Neal McCoy, Ronnie Milsap, Barbara Fairchild, Tracy Lawrence, Pam Tillis, Clay Walker, Rodney Atkins, the Charlie Daniels Band, Tracy Byrd, JoDee Messina, and many others.

The Demolition Derby, sponsored first by the Lowlanders Car Club and then by the local American Legion post, began in the early 1970s and ran for many years before being retired after 2012. It was replaced by the Bump-n-Run 2013 which ran for three years. The Demolition Derby returned for the 2017 fair and due to insurance restrictions, was retired again after the 2021 fair.

Other events included Mixed Martial Arts bouts, heldfor two years in the early 2010s; A ranch rodeo was held for eight years from 2012 to 2019.  A PRCA sanctioned rodeo returned to the fair in 2020.

In 2007, the rough carnival midway area was upgraded to an all-grass midway, thanks to federal grants. As of this writing we have the only grass midway in eastern Montana.  Rides and attractions have been provided by the Mighty Thomas Carnival for over 25 years.

A historic barn on the west edge of the fairgrounds, which was used for many years to house 4-H livestock during the fair, became unsafe and was razed in 2015. A new building was built in that area and is used not only for the 4-H, but can be used for winter storage. The fairgrounds is used for many 4-H activities throughout the year.

Rosebud County takes pride in its fairgrounds, and new features have been added yearly to make the facility a great place for gatherings of all types.

The Exhibit Hall, which hosts thousands of people annually, has had many improvments in recent years. Air conditioning was added in time for the 2011 fair. Since then the hall has been upgraded to a year-round facility, including a full commercial kitchen, restrooms, new doors and windows, wintertime heat, and beautiful new concrete flooring. It is a great place for gatherings that are too large for other local facilities, and has become one of the top facilities in the region for weddings.

Improved lighting for the rodeo arena was completed in 2020, thanks to a Montana Coal Board grant.  An upgraded sound system was installed in the grandstand and arena as well. Old-fashioned-style midway lighting will be completed in time for the 2022 fair, as will new lighting in the grandstand.  An improved ticket boxoffice and grounds-wide PA system are on the list of upcoming projects.  Grounds-wide free wi-fi has been donated during the fair since 2016 by Range, our local telecommunications provider. A new front gate was installed in 2013. 

Improvements to the fairgrounds are always in the planning stages, and the Fair Board welcomes comments and suggestions from the public. Many changes have challenged fair board members, especially in recent years, and new decisions with these changing times continue to be made. Our Mission Statement highlights the entertainment, fun, 4-H, and special attractions that make Rosebud-Treasure County Fair one of the best small fairs in eastern Montana.

PHOTO CREDITS:  1962 carnival photo by Bruce Blakesley