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Online sales of Great Northern Fair tickets shot down

After a discussion of selling tickets to Great Northern Fair events online showed a preference to continue giving business to local printers, the fair board at its monthly meeting Tuesday put the kibosh on offering the tickets via the Internet.

Fairgrounds manager Tim Solomon presented details of hiring a company that would make advance sales of tickets for the nightshow events online using credit and debit cards.

But members of the Jaycees and some board members said they would prefer to give the business to local printers, instead.

"In my opinion, I don't like the online deal, " board member Andy Owens said. "I would like just to stay local, and help our local printers out. "

Solomon said the demand for selling the tickets on the Internet is there.

"A lot of people call us and want to buy online, and we don't have it, " he said.

When Havre Jaycees President T. J. Daulton asked if they have control over the decision whether to go to online sales, Solomon said it is up to the event sponsors.

"It's pretty much your say, " Solomon said. "I'm just trying to put an option out there. "

He said one of the issues in favor of the company's service is preventing waste. When tickets are printed locally, many that are not sold end up thrown away, he said. Printing only the tickets actually sold would eliminate that expense, Solomon said.

Board member Missy Boucher said the fair board last year voted to have the groups that sponsor the night shows — the youth rodeo, the professional rodeo, the truck pull and the demolition derby — pay for their own tickets, rather than the fair paying for the printing as it had in the past.

Solomon at a fair board meeting several months ago raised the idea of hiring the company to sell the tickets online.

He said Monday he had more details on the cost and how the sales would work. The process would raise the prices of the tickets, unless the show sponsor wanted to absorb the cost. The price charged by the company is 99 cents a ticket plus 2 percent of the total, he said, which would amount to a $1.36 charge for a $15 ticket.

When people make the purchase online, the company would print the tickets and mail them to the buyer.

Board member Lynn Dolphay asked if tickets could still be purchased at the fairgrounds, adding that not everyone would want to buy them online.

Solomon said the company would provide the printer and material to print the tickets so people could buy them at the fairgrounds in advance of and during the fair.

He said the fairgrounds does not have the capability to take credit or debit card payments. Sales made there — whether using the online company's printer and materials or selling locally printed tickets — would have to be by cash or check.

Several Havre Jaycees at the meeting, including Emily Vaughn and Chelby Gooch also said they would rather have the tickets printed locally than go to an out-of-town online service.

Gooch asked if the service organization members would be able to sell the tickets themselves if they had them printed.

Solomon said they could, adding that the sponsors of the professional rodeo and truck pull typically sell quite a few tickets in advance.

Board member Chad Murnin said he would raise the question of online sales with the board of the community group that sponsors the professional rodeo, but that he expected that group also would prefer staying local.

Solomon and the members of the board agreed that if any groups do not do the online sales, no Internet sales would be used, to prevent any confusion.

"To me, we need to do everything or nothing, " Solomon said.


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