A brief history of the Rosebud County Fairgrounds and the
Rosebud-Treasure County Fair
County fairs have been held around the United States for nearly 200 years. Citizens in agricultural communities
thought it would be a great idea to display produce grown in their area
and thus began the tradition of competing for the prize crop.
Livestock were added to the competitions later, and eventually county
fairs evolved into a once-a-year extravaganza that people look forward
to for a fun experience. Agricultural displays of crops and
vegetables still appear, with newer features regularly added to involve the whole community.
Rosebud County Fair began in 1906, and with the exception of two years,
it has continued to bring excitement and reward every year to thousands
of residents of Rosebud and Treasure Counties and the surrounding area.
In 1934, the fair was canceled due to drought, grasshoppers, and Mormon
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.
Treasure County split from Rosebud County in 1919 but has always been
included as part of the fair, with 4-H also becoming a large part of the
overall show. 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, Sawyer
Brown, Neal McCoy, Ronnie Milsap, Tracy Lawrence, Clay Walker, Rodney
Atkins, the Charlie Daniels Band, and Tracy Byrd.
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 has returned
to being our top selling show.
Mixed Martial Arts bouts were held on Thursday nights for 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
The fairgrounds is in use almost weekly during most of the
year with various events taking place, everything from weddings to
ropings to soccer games to auctions. In 2007, the rough carnival midway
area was upgraded to an all-grass midway thanks to federal grants. The grass midway is much easier (and cooler!) to walk on, cleaner, and
provides a much nicer environment for the carnival area. As of this
writing we have the only grass midway in eastern Montana.
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. Additional
restrooms are planned for the area just north of the Exhibit Hall to
replace the original, outdated facilities.
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. Our new front
gate was built and installed in two steps, in 2012 and 2013, with
improved lighting and other features to be added as the budget allows.
Improved lighting for the rodeo arena was completed in 2020, thanks to a
Montana Coal Board grant secured by fair manager, Chaun Scott. An upgraded sound system was installed
in the grandstand and arena as well. New old-fashioned-style midway lighting,
with lamp-posts available for memorial purchaes, will be completed in
time for the 2021 fair, as will new lighting in the grandstand. An improved ticket boxoffice
and grounds-wide PA system are on the list of upcoming projects.
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
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
SEE YOU AT THE FAIR!
UPDATED MAY 2021
PHOTO CREDITS: 1962
carnival photo by Bruce Blakesley