After a successful run for the Jaycees demolition derby run each year at the Great Northern Fair — including the addition of a new race — the service group is wanting to move to a more prime-time day.
“We want to know if we could have … Saturday,” Jaycee President Chelby Gooch asked the fair board Tuesday during its monthly meeting.
Board member Gus Sharp, who serves as the board’s liaison with the local committee that puts on the annual rodeo during the fair said he doubts that group will be willing to give up the Saturday slot.
“Everybody wants Saturday,” he said.
Fairgrounds manager Tim Solomon said the board needs to look at the benefits of which group is on Saturday.
“We just have to do what’s best for the fair, is what we’ve got to look at,” he said.
Board member Missy Boucher said both groups should bring their numbers — and the board should look at the daily numbers from other entities such as the groups selling food — to see what the best decision would be.
“If the numbers are best for the fair to switch the dates … then that’s what we have to do, and if they’re not, then we have to keep them the way it is now,” she said.
The board was informed at its meeting in January 2013 that the truck pull, which had held the Saturday slot for a dozen years or so, was being canceled. Organizer Bill Mangold said the revenue from ticket sales was not covering the cost, and he would no longer hold the event.
Both the Jaycees and the local committee that started putting on the rodeo at the fair in 2010 asked for the Saturday slot. The board in a split vote last year approved moving the rodeo to Friday and Saturday — it previously had been in the Thursday-Friday slot. The decision kept the derby on Sunday.
Tuesday, Gooch said that with the increased success of the derby and with the addition of bump’n’run racing, the Jaycees believe they could bring a bigger crowd to the fair if they ran the events Saturday, benefitting all groups at the fair.
This year saw an increase in derby drivers, with 21 stock entries and four herby-derby entries, and about a 600-ticket increase in sales with 1,409 sold, almost doubling last year’s sales.
Gooch said the Jaycees are looking at running the events separately, likely with the race in the day and the derby in the evening.
She said that if the event were held Saturday, more people could come to compete — she said drivers from Wyoming have shown interest if it is on Saturday — along with bringing their family and friends.
Jaycee T.J. Daulton said the same is true for the bump’n’run circuit. If the event is Saturday, the Jaycees could see drivers coming from Bozeman, Billings, even North Dakota, he said.
Sharp said the same can be said for the rodeo.
Last year rodeo committee members arguing their case to have the Saturday slot said that would bring more competitors and their families and friends.
“I don’t blame you for wanting Saturday at all, but like I say, everybody wants that,” Sharp said Tuesday.
Kelly Compton of the Havre Youth Baseball Association said having more people at the event Saturday would help the concessions. She said when the local truck pull ran Saturday afternoon and the professional event ran that night, sales were busy all day.
She said the high numbers at the derby this year kept sales busy Sunday, as well.
Gooch said the Jaycees just want to see what would happen.
“We would just like you guys to take a chance. Let us try Saturday just to see,” she said.