Flathead Health Department ready for NW Montana Fair


KALISPELL, Mont. - The final touches are being put on the Northwest Montana Fair, but last week's food safety incident in Missoula is on the minds of many. The fair utilizes the same concession company as the Western Montana Fair, North Star Amusements.

"I am a little concerned about them coming up here and operating," said Flathead Health Officer Joe Russell.

The health department is aware of the incident last week in Missoula. Hundreds of pounds of food had to be thrown away after it was discovered they were kept in an unrefrigerated truck.

"For someone to unplug their refrigerators all the way from Sidney to Missoula was -- I mean that's a disaster," said Russell.

Fair officials say that they are concerned with the incident last week, but are not worried about the food at this week's fair.

"We ensure that the health department will be inspecting vendors on a regular basis to make sure everything is safe to eat," said Fairgrounds Manager Mark Campbell.

The health department will conduct inspections on a regular basis throughout the week.

"We spend most of the fair out there, our sanitarians, we inspect all the food booths, the carnival booths, the North Star food booths will get inspected," said Russell.

Some fair-goers also have food safety on their minds.

"That does worry me a lot. It definitely is something that they need to have fixed o,r if not fixed, not serve the food," said Glen Paulson of Bigfork.

Everyone is hoping that North Star Amusements does not have a repeat of last week's event. But if they do, the county is ready to take action.

"We would have to rely on the law but our county attorneys will be available to us if we need anything," said Russell.

Inspectors will keep an eye on a number of concerns including food storage temperatures, the hygiene of employees and anywhere that cross-contamination may occur.