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Great Northern Fair a success in 2012

Havre Daily News/Nikki Carlson

Fairgoers walk through the carnival as the rides light up the night sky Wednesday at the Great Northern Fair.

While numbers generally were down, most groups with activities at the Great Northern Fair reported Tuesday at the monthly Hill County fair board meeting that the annual event did rather well.

Fairgrounds manager Tim Solomon said that tickets at the carnival and the sales at the food booths were not records, but did well, and the sponsors of the Northern Rodeo Association professional rodeo and the annual truck pulls both said their events also went well.

At the end of the meeting, Solomon thanked groups that sponsor activities at the fair, saying he knows how much work goes into those events.

"And it's not the fair board, so we do want to thank them for what they do, " he said, adding that he realizes the groups aren't making a pile of money off their events.

Board member Chad Murnin, a member of the local association that sponsors the professional rodeo, said that event saw about as many people Thursday as last year — fair secretary Linda Ferguson reported $4,540 in ticket sales vs. $4,770 compared to Thursday last year — but was down Friday.

Those sales were $6,800 compared to $8,840.

Murnin said, as part of an effort to increase the family friendliness of the event, reduced prices with a food donation also was offered, and the net impact of that on sales had not yet been figured in.

But, he said, the event went well.

"This was a success, " he said "No one was hurt and all things went off without a hitch. "

He added that a large number of competitors came to the event, with 90-some competing in barrel racing alone.

Bill Mangold, who puts on the local truck pull Saturday afternoon and the professional truck pull that night, said that event also went well.

The ticket sales also were down there, with sales totalling $9,720 this year compared to $12,552 in 2011.

Several people also commented that the heat may have had an impact.

Board member Andy Owens said many factors played into reduced numbers of competitors — 16 cars — and ticket sales — $12,500 this year and $16,420 in 2011 — at the Jaycees Demolition Derby, but heat may have played a part in the reduced audience numbers.

"I wouldn't want to sit out there in ninety, hundred-degree weather, " he said.

Audience member Lisa O'Neil said the reduced number of cars may have hurt, adding that she heard a large number of derbies were going on at the same time, four or five.

Owens said that hurt many derbies, with the Shelby fair only seeing 14 cars at its competition.

The fact that the Chinook fair has a very large derby the week before also hurts, he said. Drivers often can't get their cars ready for another competition in a week.

But, he added, the numbers could change.

"Who's to say that next year we don't have 30, 40 cars? " Owens asked. "We're just on a down year. "

Lon Waid, Hill County 4-H livestock committee chair, said the 4-H activities also went smoothly,

"We, again, had a really good fair, " he said.

He said the market animal sale on Sunday also was very successful, possibly down just a bit from the sales in 2011.

"But last year was an exceptional year, " Waid added.

He said there are some issues Hill County 4-H would like to work on, such as fixing problems caused by a leak in the beef barn, addressing some parking problems and trying to find or create some new spots for campers for 4-H'ers.

"This fair is kind of a vacation for a lot of 4-H families, " Waid said.

Solomon said the free stage acts were fairly successful, and the food booths seemed to do very well.

Solomon said the carnival also was successful, although he and other board and audience members said many people were disappointed in the offerings.

Carnival ticket sales were down $300 from 2011, but that was the third-best year in the history of the fair, he said.

"So, it's right in there with one of our best, " Solomon said.

The carnival did exceed the number of rides required by the contract, but it obviously wasn't as high-quality as it had been in past years, he said. He wants to talk to the manager of the attraction about that.

"I do think it's stuff we need to visit with him about for next year, " Solomon said.


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