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Future of live racing uncertain for Northwest Montana Fair


November 22, 2005     E-mail this page to a friend!

Although Flathead County Commissioners were to decide as early as mid-October whether or not to drop live horseracing during the Northwest Montana Fair in Kalispell, commissioners postponed their decision while awaiting more input on the financial impact of racing on the local economy and the fair itself.

The commissioners will be seeking more information from both Susan Nicosia, the county internal auditor, and the community regarding racing’s impact on local businesses and agricultural producers. Nicosia will be reviewing fair finances with Fair Manager Jay Scott.

Sue Austin, Chair of the Montana Board of Horse Racing, has offered to meet with Flathead commissioners in a work session to review finances, an offer accepted by the commission.

Commissioners earlier reported a loss of $19,000 this year on live racing, which has been held at the local fair during its 103-years of history. Flathead County Commissioners estimate that live racing loses approximately $10,000 per day, the same estimate recently noted by the Cascade County Commissioners in Great Falls.

With live racing already on the demise at the Marias Fair in Shelby and gone from the Queen City oval in Helena, shutting down live racing in Kalispell would leave tracks at just four locations in Montana: Miles City, Great Falls, Missoula, and Billings.