HELENA — The Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds' building was packed to the brim for the USA Gymnastics Region 2 Championships on Thursday.
The opening day of the event marked the first time the building had been used for an event, aside from COVID-19 vaccination clinics, in more than a year. The event is being hosted by Gym 406 in Helena, and the gym's owner, Denny Allen, said this event was about two years in the making as a result of COVID-19 and a lot of planning went into making sure the athletes could finally compete again.
“We were delayed by a year. It has taken us at least that long to kind of revamp and get some of the new requirements that are required as far as COVID and that sort of thing and Lewis and Clark County requirements and state requirements and make it all work," said Allen.
Across four days, more than 900 athletes from six different states, ranging in skill levels from level six to level 10, will compete at the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds for regional championships and, in some cases, a chance to head to the national championships.
Kevin Tenney, the fairgrounds manager, said in his eyes this event is the perfect way to start out a hopefully fruitful summer season.
“I think it means normalcy. Again, this is -- like I said, it's been a year since we've done this, and now my staff, my crew this feels normal,” said Tenney. “We're around $750,000 down in revenue compared to where we were at this time last year. So it's an event like this, and then the continued events going forward, it'll be good to see that on that revenue bump that we haven't seen in over a year.”
Tenney noted the Fairgrounds schedule is packed, saying it's booked nearly every weekend from May to December.
Much like the situation at the Fairgrounds, Allen noted the championship event they're hosting is another sense of normalcy returning and hopes it continues in the near future.
“This is what these athletes live for. They love to practice, but they really love to compete, and so this is a big weekend,” said Allen. “This is the start of it again, I think we're on a road back and we're excited to see how the rest of the year goes.”