Organizations that put events on at the Great Northern Fair were split on comments about this year’s fair, with a representative of one group telling the fair board Monday that his group would no longer put on the rodeo due to conflicts with the management, while a 4-H representative said this year was tremendous for that organization.
Clint Solomon of the local association that started putting on the professional rodeo at the fair in 2011 said the rodeo went well, but his group would no longer put on the event.
“You want everybody to work their rears off to put on these events … ,” he said. “You guys got to work with people to put on events and make things happen.”
“It’s too much fighting all year and nickel-and-diming us,” he said later.
Board chair Bert Corcoran said he takes offense at those comments, adding that the board works with groups every year to put on a fair.
Board member Gus Sharp said he hoped the association would hold conversations with the board to find ways it could continue to put on the rodeo.
Fairgrounds manager Tim Solomon said in an interview that if the local association does stop running the rodeo, he expects the fair board again will put the contract out for bid and find another group or rodeo company to put on an event at the Great Northern Fair.
Lon Waid of Hill County 4-H had a different take on the 2013 fair.
“I hate to turn it to a positive side, but I’m going to,” Waid said. “The 4-H had a tremendous fair.”
He said multiple improvements made by 4-H volunteers, including putting gravel in the barn and setting up new parking arrangements for the fair, worked very well. He said other improvements would help even more, such as putting the pens on skids to make them easier to set up, tear down and store. That now takes the 4-H volunteers about three hours before and three hours after the events, and raises some safety concerns for children helping set up and tear down, he said.
Waid said he would meet with Tim Solomon to talk about putting the pens on skids.
He added that the market sale Sunday, the main wrapup of fair events, also went well, with people paying more than $166,000 for the 4-H’ers animals. The money for the first purchase went to the 4-H’ers who raised and trained the animals. Some buyers donated the animals back to be auctioned again, and those proceeds going to the 4-H Foundation, the Hanson Memorial Fund or a fund started to help pay for a project to rebuild the 4-H Chuckwagon building on the fairgrounds.
A new fair event, pig wrestling, received high praise, although some asked if it could be held in the arena to bring more traffic to the concessions.
Solomon said volunteers stepped up to help with the event — the company that puts on the pig wrestling requires the fair to provide help with moving the pigs to the arena and cleaning them up after the wrestling.
Solomon thanked the Hill County 4-H and the college rodeo team for their volunteer efforts at the event.
Lon Waid said the event was a great success.
Stacey Waid added that she believed next year even more teams would participate.
Solomon said moving the event to the arena was possible, but holding it in the Bigger Better Barn, where it was this year, makes cleaning up much easier.
Lon Waid added that using the barn avoids fighting the weather, adding that it looked for a while Wednesday evening like rain could have caused problems with having the wrestling outdoors.
Solomon said the concessions also went well, although they appear down from the last few years.
About half of the food vendors had reported their sales by Tuesday night, and Solomon said a couple were up from previous years, although most were down, but not significantly.
“They’re not down real bad, but it is down a little bit from what we had.” Solomon said, adding that the last few years have had record-high amounts.
He said the fair had a few more food vendors than it has in the past few years, and the commercial building had three open slots.