By Tim Leeds 

Good numbers at the fair

Commercial building low spot due to no-shows, manager Tim Solomon adds


July 24, 2014

Eric Seidle

A carnival worker operates a ride last week at the Great Northern Fair.

Great Northern Fairgrounds Manager Tim Solomon gave a positive report Tuesday on the annual fair held Wednesday through Sunday last week.

"It was a great one as far as really mellow crowds, no big problems ... our numbers are up. It was good all the way around," he said during the monthly meeting of the Great Northern Fair Board.

Solomon said that included record numbers for people riding rides at the carnival.

"(It's) the highest year ever on a carnival," he said.

Solomon said the carnival's gross sales for tickets was $127,342, with the fair's share of that $41,549.44.

Board member Missy Boucher said she saw some negative comments on the carnival shared through Facebook, but she thought it was a good carnival, clean and well run.

"I thought it was a little bit nostalgic," she added about the selection of rides.

Solomon said he didn't hear any complaints about the carnival while he was at the fair, and Boucher said the only complaints she heard were through the Facebook comments.

Solomon added that Brown's Amusement, in its second year of a three-year contract, doesn't have much for games, which is different from the carnivals at the fair previously.

He said the company owner is working on bringing more rides - a major complaint from last year - including bringing a Zipper and merry-go-round this year, and is working on getting more rides and looking at adding more special offers on tickets.

Board member Gus Sharp, the board's liaison with the local committee that puts on the rodeo, said he had not yet heard the total numbers for attendance, but it looked like attendance was good when he went to watch the competition.

"Everything I saw was good. ... It looked like the stands were pretty full," he said.

Solomon said the fair staff members do not receive numbers from the committee on how many tickets it sells, but the numbers sold at the fairground were up a bit from last year.

For Friday, people bought 561 rodeo tickets at the fairground and bought 570 for Saturday. The proceeds from the tickets, including the $11,310 for the tickets sold at the fairgrounds, go to the local rodeo association to help pay for its cost putting on the event.

Solomon said the night shows all seemed to do well for ticket sales, including the second year of pig wrestling at the Hill County fair. People bought 366 tickets for the event, held in the Bigger Better Barn, for gross sales of $1,830, which is kept by the fair.

Numbers of entries were up from last year, with seven peewee entries, 10 intermediate teams, five women's teams and three men's teams. The 25 teams more than doubled last year's entries, with 10 teams competing at the 2103 Great Northern Fair.

Board Chair Bert Corcoran said people seemed to enjoy the pig wrestling, but he heard two complaints - it was too hot, and people asked why it couldn't be held outside in the arena.

Solomon said, especially with the growth of the event, that is something the board should look at.

The junior rodeo, proceeds from which are split between the fair and the rodeo organizing group, saw 335 tickets sold for $1,675.

The annual demolition derby put on the Havre Jaycees also had a good year, Jaycees President Chelby Gooch said, with entries up a bit, a good crowd and a new event - bump'n'run races held between the main heats and the consolation heats - a major success.

Gooch said the Jaycees plan to hold more of the races at the new track at the fairgrounds at times other than the fair, and are trying to put one together for August and would like to hold another on the Sunday during Festival Days, which is scheduled for Sept. 19-21 this year.

People bought 1,409 tickets for this year's derby at a gross of $14,090, which is split between the fair and the Jaycees. Solomon said that is up about 600 tickets from last year

Solomon said the food concessions also appeared to do well this year, although he did not have the final numbers on all sales.

Board member Alma Seidel said 4-H also had a good fair, including almost $199,000 in sales at its annual market livestock auction Sunday.

"It was good, very good," she said.

Solomon said the escape artist working on the free stage and doing walkabouts in between, Kristen "Lady Houdini" Johnson, was very popular.

"I heard nothing but great comments ... ," he said. "I think that went over excellent. She packed that little area with all of her shows.

He said one problem was the commercial building, which had a low number of booths this year, bringing comments from fairgoers.

Solomon said the numbers would have been down a bit, with a few empty spaces, but the real problem was that a number of groups that signed up - and paid to attend - did not show. He said he doesn't know what can be done about that.

"We might have to go out and try to recruit," he said.


Reader Comments

Fair writes:

We went to the fair only one night this year, Friday night. But I thought the ride selection was good, my 3 year old had lots of rides to choose from, limited waiting. I actually enjoy there not being very many games there, you tend to get harassed when you walk thru there. My son really enjoyed the free petting zoo! We stopped there several times. I think it was a good fair! thank you Havre!


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