The Hill County Fair Board talked about opening the grounds to board potentially hundreds of horses during one of the major events on the Hi-Line, the annual powwow at Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation.
Board member Chad Murnin said he heard several people complain that they could not find anywhere to board horses during the event.
“There is a significant amount of money that could be made, ” Murnin said, adding that he has heard estimates that the fair board could rake in up to $10,000 for boarding fees the week of the powwow.
Fairgrounds manager Tim Solomon said people do board horses at the fairground outside of the time of the Great Northern Fair — a few were housed there during Tuesday’s meeting — and he has tried to board them during the powwow.
Solomon said he did not have enough manpower to pull that off — with him and groundskeeper Murdo McKay both working, people still would be bringing in horses and coming in to take them out without paying, going to gates that Solomon and McKay were not covering.
Someone would have to cover each gate, every way to get to the corrals and stables, the entire week, Solomon said.
“We didn’t get most of them paid for, ” he said. “Unless we have people here 24-hours-a-day, it won’t be worth it. ”
He said locking gates and entrances would not be very effective — fairgrounds staff members have found locks cut off so people can sneak their horses into the grounds.
Hill County Commissioner Jeff LaVoi urged the board to consider boarding horses during the powwow — any idea to increase revenue at the fairgrounds should be looked at, he said.
Another suggestion was to hire or include a club, such as the Chinook FFA club, to staff the grounds during the boarding.
“It could be done, ” Clint Solomon of the association that puts on the rodeo at the Great Northern Fair. “It just a matter of it would take some work, that’s the size of it. It could be done, and you could make some money at it. ”
Board member Lynn Dolphay said it would mean having someone at every exit and entrance to make sure people did not sneak their horses in.
Solomon agreed, adding, again, that it would have to be all day every day. While he was working boarding horses during the powwow several years ago, he added, he would see people sneaking horses in one entrance while he was working with a person at another.
Solomon said he is willing to look at boarding horses during the powwow again, but said the board would have to hire workers or find some way to staff the event through the entire week.
“You can’t manage it unless you’ve got more than one person. It was a zoo, ” he said.