County Fair

Name Title Phone Email
Chris McGuigan Fair Manager

Sanders County Fair is held over Labor Day weekend.

The Fair

During each fair the Sanders County Fair rents outdoor booths to vendors with all sorts of merchandise as well as to a few organizations. Space during the fair is always sold out early so you should check on availability well in advance. We have included the necessary forms for participation in this program in pdf format as noted below.  These forms are in fillable format but you must download them to your own computer first.  Food Vendors are provided contracts by Fair Management – these forms DO NOT apply to food vendors!

PRCA Rodeo: is being produced by Powder River Rodeo Productions, L.L.C.  Contact Hank or Lori Franzen, Powder River Rodeo L.L.C., 225 North Muddy Road, Riverton, Wyoming, 82501, phone (307) 856-1465 or fax (307)856-1464.  No local entries are being accepted for the PRCA rodeo.

Bull Riding Event: is being produced by Powder River Rodeo Productions, L.L.C.  Contact Hank or Lori Franzen, Powder River Rodeo L.L.C., 225 North Muddy Road, Riverton, Wyoming, 82501, phone (307) 856-1465 or fax (307)856-1464.

Stay connected to the Wrangler NFR all year long.
Go to or like the page at and join the conversation.

Open Class Exhibit Entries: All open class exhibit entries, including livestock and poultry and rabbits, must be pre-registered in order to enter the fair.  There are no exceptions to this rule.  If you fail to pre-register your entry, it will not be allowed to be exhibited for a prize.

Exhibits for judging are to be taken to each Department between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.

Arts, Crafts & Photography and Home Sewing & Needlecraft exhibits are to be entered on Monday, August 29, 2016.

Culinary Arts, Horticulture and Floriculture exhibits are entered on Wednesday, August 31, 2016.

Poultry and Rabbit exhibits are to be entered on Wednesday, August 31, 2016, between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.

Exhibits may not be removed until after 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 4, 2016.  Early removal of exhibits shall cause the forfeiture of any awards and/or premiums, and the entrant shall be barred from entering exhibits the following year.  Where applicable, enter exhibits in the correct category that applies to you.  In the case of any complaint against an exhibitor, Fair Management reserves the right to call for affidavits to satisfy a challenge.  Each exhibitor can register only one entry per lot.  Entries are accepted for published lots only.

If you enter your exhibits using a paper entry form the cutoff is August 17, 2016 at 4:00 p.m. If you enter your exhibits using our online process the cutoff is August 24, 2016 at 4:00 p.m.

Open Class Horse Show begins at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 3, in the horse arena. Entries in the Open Class Ranch Horse show must be pre-registered. Entries close at 8:30 a.m. the day of the show. Follow all rules as listed in the Exhibitor’s Handbook or as published on this website as they apply to the Open Class Ranch Horse Show. Final decisions regarding eligibility are made by the Department Superintendent.

Demolition Derby will be held at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 4, in the main arena. This event is sponsored by the Plains Lions Club. Owners of cars to be driven in the demolition derby should write to the Sanders County Fair, P.O. Box 9, Plains, Montana, 59859-0009, for entry information and forms, or call (406) 826-3202.  The entry form is also available here on the website in pdf format. Be sure to confirm your car number with the office. Make sure that your sponsors and your support crews have tickets for the demolition derby no later than Sunday at noon. The demolition derby usually sells out before show time! Derby rules and specifications can be found here.

The Sanders County Fair Parade will be held in downtown Plains on Saturday, September 3rd.  The Fair Parade is produced by the Plains Wrestling Association as a fund raising event for them.  You can  preregister online under Open Class entries.  You can enter the day of the parade at least an hour an a half before the start of the parade in the Plains Public School parking lot in front of the school complex.  Registration and line up will take place in that area.  Parade entrants who receive a blue ribbon in their category will be issued a “cash” certificate which they must take to the Fair’s Cashier’s office for redemption immediately following the conclusion of the parade.

Camping and Grounds Rules

ALL vehicles must be parked in designated areas according to the signs and parking attendant instructions.  Daily fees will be charged for vehicle parking on the fairgrounds.  Tents, campers and RVs will pay a daily fee or purchase a pass for the entire fair.  All vehicles will be charged a parking fee and must display a parking tag.  There are no exceptions.

NO open flames, outside campfires, camp stoves, charcoal grills, etc., are permitted on the fairgrounds.

Garbage must be deposited in containers provided.  NO scavenging in garbage.

NO discharge of firearms, firecrackers, rockets or any other fireworks are permitted.

Animals, including dogs, are not allowed on the fairgrounds unless they are part of an act, show or display.  The only exceptions are seeing-eye dogs and law enforcement animals.

Selling or offering for sale any merchandise without prior approval of Fair Management is prohibited.

Distribution of any handbills, circulars, posters, bills, papers, advertising matter, etc., without prior approval of Fair Management is prohibited.

Noise must be kept to a minimum so as to not disturb your neighbor.

No lifeguard is on duty nor is supervision provided at the river.  Properly supervise your children and keep them away from the river.

Drive with care and courtesy.

NO vehicles are allowed on, or may park within the fairgrounds without approval of the Fair Manager.  Deliveries and pick-ups of food and merchandise to exhibits or concessions are permitted only between the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. daily.  The midways will be closed to all auto and truck traffic during all other hours – NO EXCEPTIONS!

NO vehicular traffic is permitted on the midway greens where water or septic lines may be damaged or broken.

NO minors will be allowed to overnight on the fairgrounds unless chaperoned.

The main gates of the fairgrounds shall be closed after 2:00 a.m. to all unauthorized personnel.



The Sanders County Fair Commission takes pleasure in announcing that the annual fair of Sanders County will be held on the fairgrounds at Plains, Montana, from Monday, August 29, 2016 through Sunday, September 4, 2016.  This year’s fair theme is:  Celebrate the Past, Embrace the Future!

We urge the cooperation of all to provide a valuable, educational and fun-filled event.  The Fair Commission makes every effort to provide generous premium awards for its various activities and exhibits, as they are a great influence in bringing together the various communities of Sanders County and the surrounding areas.  This is your fair and you make it better by your participation.

Pre-sale of Arena Event Tickets will be available starting on July 1, 2016.  Tickets may be obtained three different ways.  Please choose the method most convenient for you.

In person – visit the Ticket         during normal business hours (8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday), select the seating you desire for any given event you wish to attend and then pay for the tickets with cash, money order or credit card.
By telephone – call the fair office during normal business hours (8:00 a.m. through 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday), select the tickets for the events you wish to attend and pay for the tickets using a credit card.
On-Line – visit our website at, select “Arena Events” from the menu.  Follow the instructions provided in order to select the tickets for the events you wish to attend.

No tickets will be mailed out from the fair office.  All tickets will be held and will be available on the day of the event at the “will call” window at the Fair Ticket Office.  Please pick up your tickets no later than two (2) hours prior to the event – the lines do get long!

No seating is guaranteed until paid for.  The fair accepts VISA, Master Card, American Express, Discover and debit cards.  During the fair, the Ticket Office will be open and selling arena event tickets from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily.  Please note that the Demolition Derby usually sells out every year.  To insure your attendance, you must purchase your tickets as early as you can.

Veterinarian Services for the Sanders County Fair are those of health officer only.  All livestock exhibitors are directly responsible for the health care of their animals by the veterinarian of their choice.  The Sanders County Fair is not liable for any expense incurred for the treatment of livestock.  All livestock must have a veterinarian’s certificate of health, or must pass a health inspection by the Fair’s veterinarian on Wednesday, August 31, 2016.  Livestock which does not have a current health inspection certificate, or has not been inspected by the Fair’s veterinarian, are prohibited from being on the fairgrounds.  THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS TO THIS RULE.  If you bring an animal or animals onto the fairgrounds, and they do not have a current health inspection, or haven’t been inspected by the Fair’s veterinarian, you will be required to remove your animals immediately.

Dogs:  Only “seeing eye” dogs or police working dogs are permitted on the fairgrounds.  Leave your dog(s) at home or keep them in your vehicle/RV if you bring them to the fair.  Please keep in mind the weather can be difficult if not fatal for animals in closed vehicles.

Complaints: If you feel there is something that needs the attention of the Fair Manager or Fair Commission, please take note of the situation and present it at the Fair Commission meeting following the conclusion of the fair, either in person or in writing.  This is your fair and your input is important to us.  Any dangerous situation should be reported immediately to the appropriate Building Superintendent or to the Fair Office.

Open Class Premium Monetary Awards will be paid ONLY from the Cashier’s Office beginning at 1:00 P.M. to closing,  Saturday, September 3 and beginning at 1:00 P.M. to closing Sunday, September 4. Because of our accounting procedures, premiums will not be paid at any other time.  If you fail to collect your premium payment during this time, your premium is forfeited.


Special Awards or added money can be picked up in the cashier’s office along with premium money.

Alcoholic Beverages: In keeping with the family atmosphere of the Sanders County Fair, alcoholic beverages may be consumed only within the confines of the beer garden or the drinking seating sections of the main arena.  Alcoholic beverages are not permitted anywhere else on the fairgrounds!

No coolers of any size are permitted in the main arena.  Our ticket takers and ushers (members of the Clark Fork Valley Shriners’ Club) will prevent coolers from being carried into the main arena.  Plan ahead and leave your coolers at home.

The Sanders County Fair isn’t the only thing that happens on our beautiful fairgrounds!  We host events throughout the year including a holiday season light show and a celebration of the 4th of July.  This page is your link to our special activities including information on how to book your own, very special event.

Whether it’s a wedding, a reunion, a day camp or a special party, the facilities at the Sanders County Fairgrounds are available for rental throughout the year.  We have provided a copy of the Buildings & Grounds Rental Agreement here.  Should you like details about availability or pricing, please contact the fair office at 406-826-3202.


During the summer months, the Sanders County Fairgrounds hosts the Sanders County Community Market.  This event takes place every Saturday from May 16, 2015 through October 3, 2015 from 10 A.M. to 2 P.M. with the exception of Labor Day Weekend.  (We are busy with a fair about that time!)

Arena Events

Tickets will be available on line each year starting July 1st.  Online sales may be discontinued at the discretion of fair management.  Tickets ordered through the Fair Office will start on Monday, July 1st.
During the 2016 fair (9/1 through 9/), tickets will be sold out of the ticket office located under the north grandstand.  The ticket office is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.  Please visit the ticket office or call (406) 826-3202 to talk with one of our ticket agents.  And of course, you’ll be able to order tickets on line through Wednesday, August 31st.
Below is a list of the seating options available for each event.
ALL Tickets will be held at the fair, no tickets will be mailed out to patrons.  Tickets will be available at the “will call” window at the Ticket Office located beneath the North Grandstand.  On the day of the event, please pick up your tickets no later than two (2) hours prior to the event — the lines do get long!
2017 Ticket Order Form is available here…

 Online ticket sales are now closed!

Open Class

Exhibit Rules, Classifications, Online Premium Book Access

Sanders County Fair uses a system of Categories in order to insure that exhibits are judged in comparison to entries within similar age groups or skill levels.  It is very important that exhibitors clearly indicate the appropriate category on their entry forms by following the descriptions within each Department in the Fair Premium Book and as described below. Age is determined as of the final day of paper entry registration for each fair year.  For the 2016 Fair this date is August 17, 2016.

Online entries are now closed!

Judging Rules & Schedule

Where there is only one entry in a lot, the Judges shall have the right to award First, Second, Third or No Place according to the merits of the entry.

Judges’ decisions are final.  No appeal will be considered except in the case of an error.

Any exhibitor trying to influence or interfere with the judging will be promptly expelled from the competition and all ribbons and/or premiums forfeited.
Any exhibit not properly entered is not eligible to compete.  If any exhibit is improperly listed and shown, the same may be placed in its proper class, providing that class has not already been judged.  The Fair Commission is not responsible for such changes.

No ribbons or premiums will be given if there is clear evidence of any tampering.  Payment of premiums will be made based on the information given to the Fair Office from the judging portion of the entry tags punched by the judges and attending clerks and superintendents.


As a public service, the Fair Commission will begin to post the Agenda for the Commission meetings on this site. These meetings are open to the public.

Agenda for the next meeting to be held at:


Minutes of the Fair Commission Meetings of Sanders County.

Fair Commission minutes will be placed on this website once the minutes have been approved by the Fair Commission at the following scheduled meeting.  The Fairboard does not hold meetings in December.  At this time, only minutes from the September, 2007 meeting forward will be made available on the website; previous minutes can be obtained by contacting the Fair Office.

The official signed copies of the minutes of the Sanders County Fair Commission are available in the fair office.  The minutes on this website are provided as a courtesy but are not considered the official minutes.

The Sanders County Fair began in 1911 with a community horse race. Participants included ladies and gentlemen from the town of Plains, as well as ladies and gentlemen from the reservation. In that day, settler ladies rode side saddle while their Native American counterparts rode astride! For a number of years horse racing and horsemanship were a major part of the fair.

As the years passed, rodeos, carnivals and dances were added to the options provided to visitors. The parade organized during fair weekend became a favorite, especially as participants included such things as new-fangled automobiles and old, reliable steer-driven wagons.

Currently, the fair is one of the seven largest fairs in the state of Montana and attracts visitors from throughout western Montana, northern Idaho and eastern Washington. Many of our part-time residents make sure they are present during fair time. In recent years attendance has been between 30,000 and 50,000 people (which doubles and triples the population of the whole county!). It is the only fair in western Montana that does not charge a gate fee. Daily and weekly parking passes are available. Parking for camping and RVs is also available along the river front.

Our Team