The Western Montana Fair is only a week away.
But horse racing enthusiasts are already gathering support to bring on track betting back in 2014. The Missoula fair hasn't seen horses race since 2010.
County commissioners said it doesn't fit with long-term fairgrounds redevelopment. But grassroots supporters said it should.
Horse racing is a passion for many Montanans and was certainly a tradition at the Western Montana Fair.
County commissioners said it's no longer feasible.
But money flowing through betting windows at the Montana State Fair and Race Meet in Great Falls impressed a Missoula off-track betting manager.
"Four days at Great Falls, the handler was $380,000," said Katie O'Keefe's off-track simulcast manager Val Crossland.
Crossland said Montana race horse people need and want Montana race tracks.
"Because there's no racing right here," she said, "But they did come home to Great Falls."
Crossland and other racing enthusiasts hope to convince county commissioners to reconsider bringing racing back to the fair.
The board said the decision it made last spring is final.
But the Western Montana Turf Club president said horse racing attracts people to the fair.
Toni Hinton said there's more than a hundred years of history to consider.
"The fairgrounds lost a lot of families and adults that were attending," said Hinton, "It just was a huge event for our traditional county fair."
The Board of Missoula County Commissioners prepared a statement.
It said the community cannot be confident in their investment, whether public, private or nonprofit, if the short and long-term goals of the fairgrounds include activities the county can not depend on in perpetuity. Providing for horse racing in the short-term will not foster a landscape of predictability that-long term investment requires.