The sponsor of the annual truck pull held at the local fair said Tuesday that event is going away this year.
“It’s official, ” Bill Mangold said when asked if he was canceling the event.
The next question for the Hill County Fair Board is what to do with the Saturday slot — representatives of both the Havre Jaycees and the local rodeo association said they would like to take that time, and fairgrounds manager Tim Solomon said another event could be brought in, and also suggested that it could lead to having Saturday as the last day of the fair.
The truck pull has been the grandstand event for Saturday at the Great Northern Fair for a dozen years, but, Mangold said, the event isn’t generating enough revenue to keep it going.
At the past fairs, the event included a local truck pull for Saturday afternoon and a professional competition for the night.
Mangold said he has to pay $25,000 to bring the professional event to Havre, and the ticket sales aren’t paying for it. Two years ago it brought in $12,552, and last year $9,720.
That means he has to come up with $12,000 or more of his own, he said. He added that, when he started organizing the truck pull, he pledged that he wouldn’t compete for dollars from businesses and organizations supporting other fair events — especially because the money goes out of the area instead of staying in Havre.
“Every dime I (would) go get from businesses in the town of Havre leaves Havre, ” Mangold said.
Both Kelly Compton of the Havre Youth Baseball Association, which operates the beer garden at the fair as a fundraiser for its activities, and board member Chad Murnin thanked Mangold.
“We appreciate your hard work you’ve done over all the years, ” Murnin said.
Both Chelby Gooch of the Havre Jaycees and Clint Solomon of the local association that puts on the professional rodeo at the fair said they would like to move their events to Saturday.
The rodeo now takes place Thursday and Friday, and the Jaycees Demolition Derby is the Sunday night event.
“That would be a great improvement for us, ” Solomon said.
He said the Thursday night attendance is not that high, and moving the event to Saturday would probably bring much bigger crowds, benefiting the rodeo and the fair. Having the slack competition — where people unable to fit into the official night-time event compete, with no charge to the audience — on Saturday also would likely bring many more people to watch it, he said.
He added that the competitors will come whatever days the rodeo is held — the main benefit would be for the crowd.
Gooch said moving the derby — long a mainstay at the Hill County fair — would likely help with both how many people are in the audience and with how many people bring cars to compete.
The derby has seen a heavy reduction in the number of competitors in recent years.
Having more drivers also will increase the number of people in the audience, Gooch said.
Having a Saturday night competition might bring people from a much longer range, including from out of state, she said.
“That gives them another day to ride home, ” she said.
Board Vice President Alma Seidel and board member Andy Owens both said deciding who would get the Saturday slot almost would have to be done as a random decision.
“It would benefit the derby, it would benefit the rodeo, ” Owens said.
Fairgrounds manager Tim Solomon said the board also could look at bringing in another event to replace the truck pull.
He also said it might be time to talk about whether to replace the Sunday event at all — many fairs are starting to end their events on Saturday, Solomon said.
The Great Northern Fair now starts with set up and entries Monday, 4-H interview competitions Tuesday and the main events, including the carnival on the midway, opening up Wednesday.
The fair closes out with the demolition derby Sunday night.