The board that oversees Hill County’s Great Northern Fair discussed several issues Tuesday at its monthly meeting, including continuing the discussion on upgrading its policies about food concessions.
Fairgrounds manager Tim Solomon said he had talked to the people who run the fairs in Billings and Great Falls, but that their policies probably wouldn’t work here.
“After talking to them I am more confused than before …, ” he said. “I think we need to do some more checking with smaller ones that are closer to our needs … .
“I think we’ve got to get to something practical for us, ” Solomon added.
The issue came up at the August fair board meeting, during a discussion about some vendors being turned away by groups that rented the fairgrounds for their events, outside of the fair.
The board tabled that discussion, and it was not raised Tuesday.
In August, Solomon said another issue is how to charge the vendors — all but 4-H, which owns its own building and pays its own electricity, are charged a commission on their sales — to match the cost of the vendors.
Solomon said, depending on what groups bring in for equipment like freezers and cookers, some use a very high level of electricity. He said the cost to the fair board would be close to $5,000 or $6,000 during July, rather than the average of about $1,000. He cited a system used in Great Falls charging by the items brought as a possible solution.
Tuesday, he said that the Great Falls fair has recently changed to a complex system that he believes would not work well for Havre. Solomon said he would do more research, possibly during the fair convention later in the fall, to find more possible solutions.
The meeting also included a continued discussion of the fair providing ice to the vendors, which would reduce the use of freezers and their increased use of electricity. Solomon said he would do more research on that idea, as well.
He also said some changes have happened regarding vendors, including that the Kiwanis Club sold its building to the Rotary Club. Rotary was working on cleaning up and switching over the building as Tuesday’s meeting was progressing.
Mary Saboe, who runs the commercial building during the fair, also asked if something could be done to provide a cooler environment in the community building that holds school and general entry exhibits. She said some elderly people often come into the building to sit out of the sun, but this year, the heat was extreme.
“When the people come in here and complain it’s hotter in here than it is outside, something needs to be done, ” Saboe said.
Solomon said he would research what it would cost to add air conditioning or find some way of cooling the building.
Lon Waid of Hill County 4-H told the board that that organization wants to do some work to repair a fence and deal with some problems with the concrete floor in one of the barns used by the organization during the fair.
Kelly Compton of the Havre Youth Baseball Assocation said that group has ordered material to do work on improving the beer garden, operated by the association during the fair.
The board also listened to a discussion about the baseball association renting the Bigger Better Barn at the fairground in the late winter and early spring to use for practicing — a space used by rodeo associations now if the weather requires it.
Solomon said the barn user’s association typically rents the barn from November through February, which would prevent the baseball association from using it that early.
Depending on the weather, the barn user’s association or other groups may rent the building later, but having a guaranteed rental would give more certainty to the board, he said.
“I think it’s in the best interests of the fair, ” he said.
Board member Chad Murnin said horseman organizations in the community do have some need of the space — the college rodeo group often needs it to practice in the late winter and early spring, he said.
Solomon said he would talk to the different groups that use the barn to try to find a consensus on what would work best.