Fairgrounds director announces resignation

By Martin Kidston

Missoula County announced the resignation of fairgrounds director Todd Garrett on Tuesday, five days after he submitted his resignation letter to commissioners.

In a press released issued just before 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Garrett cited personal reasons for leaving his $37-and-hour job, saying he was proud of recent improvements to the grounds and had confidence in the property’s future.Todd Garrett

“We have made many improvements to the facility and operations, and I am especially proud of our success in increasing safety and accessibility for visitors,” he said. “I feel we have passed the crux in our pursuit to put the fairgrounds on the path to future success, and know renovations will continue until completion.”

The fairgrounds had faced falling attendance in past years, though efforts are underway to revive the annual fair and find year-round use for the property, which sits surrounded by city land.

A master plan has been developed for proposed renovations to the fairgrounds, and the public comment period opened in May. Efforts to rejuvenate the fairgrounds are now six years in the making.

The county fair begins in roughly two weeks, though Garrett plans to remain in place until the event is completed. He named is final date as August 19. The fair concludes on the 14th.

Garrett said he needed greater flexibility in his schedule.

“I enjoy the fair, and spending abundant time on these increasingly wonderful 46 acres, but now need more flexibility than before, thus my difficult decision to depart Missoula County,” Garrett said in his resignation letter. “Knowing the future of the fairgrounds is secure, allows me lo make the difficult decision to end my time as Missoula County Fairgrounds Director.”

On July 15, 2015, Missoula County renewed Garrett’s contract for another 29 months. The revised contract provided Garrett an annual salary of $76,960, or $37 an hour, and stayed his position through January 2018.

Garrett thanked commissioners for their support.

“I was able to hire several new people this year and we have more staff than (the) past few years; they are a great team, all believing in our mission and quality customer service,” Garrett said. “Even with my departure and likely vacancy while you do a search, the fairgrounds will have several more staff this fall that past years.”

The county announced Garrett’s resignation in an email sent out at 3:29 p.m. on Tuesday.

“The commissioners wholeheartedly agree with the point made in Mr. Garrett’s resignation letter that county leadership has a ‘renewed confidence in the future of the fair and of the grounds,’” Katie Klietz said in her news release. “Following his leave, Missoula County will begin reviewing the position and recruiting qualified candidates to continue cultivating this confidence in future planning efforts.”

Contact reporter Martin Kidston at info@missoulacurrent.com