Posted: Jan 28, 2013 9:00 AM by Bernie Riggs - MTN News
MISSOULA - The debate continues over what to do with the Western Montana fairgrounds, and some of the options that have been discussed include renovation or building a new multi-purpose event center.
But in order to build a new events center, the fairgrounds would have to do away with its 18-acre horse racing grounds, and that doesn't sit well with Val Crossland, who runs the off-track betting at Katie O'Keefe's Casino.
She says the horse racing community in Western Montana is now forced to go out of state. Crossland believes fair attendance the last two years has been low in large part because there hasn't been any horse races.
Back in 2010, the last time the fair had horse racing, attendance increased by 65% over the two days that included races. Crossland would like to see horse racing have a chance at making a resurgence.
"First of all I would ask 'Where's that money going to come from?' Second of all, I would ask people to look back on the tradition of the fair. It just seems to be going away little by little," she said.
A meeting will be held to determine the future of the horse racing at the Missoula County Fairgrounds on Monday at 11:30 a.m.