The Department of Commerce announced Thursday that the annual Made in Montana Tradeshow for Food & Gifts will be limited to wholesale buyers to protect against the possibility of spreading novel coronavirus or COVID-19.
Wholesale buyers will still have the opportunity to shop for authentic Montana products from nearly 150 Made in Montana vendors on Friday, March 13, from 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. at the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds in Helena. The show will not be open to the public on Saturday, March 14, as originally planned.
There are no known cases of COVID-19 in Montana. The DOC recommends that wholesale buyers and sellers who plan to attend the tradeshow exercise proper hygiene and stay home if sick.
Tradeshow staff, in consultation with state and local health officials, have put in place additional safety measures to protect vendors and buyers who plan to attend. This includes basic verbal health screenings, additional hand-washing stations, and guidance on how to maintain clean booth spaces.
The annual Made in Montana Tradeshow is held annually to connect wholesale buyers with Montana artists, craftspeople and entrepreneurs. Buyers from across the region typically attend the tradeshow to stock their store shelves with authentic Montana-made products for the busy travel season. This portion of the tradeshow is open to registered buyers only. Last year, exhibitors reported a 60 percent increase in wholesale sales from 2018.
According to Commerce director Tara Rice, “The Department of Commerce is monitoring the economic impacts of this public health situation in real time. All public policy options are being considered.”
For those who were planning to attend the public showcase, the Made in Montana program also offers an extensive online directory of products manufactured, created and grown in Montana, from breweries to organic meat and produce, and from galleries to a wide range of retail offerings.