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Fair board talks cost-saving measures, volunteer projects and new ideas

 

April 18, 2018

Havre Daily News/Ryan Welch

Ray Kallenberger, a member of the Great Northern Fair board listens to Linda Ferguson, who is the board's secretary, Tuesday evening in the Timmons Room at the Hill County Courthouse.

The Great Northern Fair in its monthly meeting Tuesday discussed new and old business, which centered primarily on the financial situation concerning the fair and how money should be spent, raised and saved.

The board started out by giving the fair manager's report. Fair board chair Tyler Smith said that since the previous manager was laid off because of lack of money, the board has taken over the duties and would be giving the report.

Smith said the Bigger Better Barn will be having its roof repaired starting May 1 and it should be done within a month. He added that two weeks ago there was a water break in the barn but they were able to shut down the water quickly and it will be an easy repair. They will decide at a later date when to turn the water back on, he said.

Smith said they are also looking at putting high efficiency lights in the barn as well as getting quotes for the walk-in doors around the barn.

"All the walk-in doors around the Bigger Better Barn are in rough shape," he said, "The lowest quote we got was about 5,800 (dollars) which Scott (Doney) and I didn't think was too terrible."

The board plans to put the door purchase under review, Smith said, and then make the purchase.

Smith thanked community member Kody Peterson for the donated hours he had contributed to the fairgrounds, including five hours he spent grading the ground before the meeting.

Smith also brought up that the board would like to ask some help with small projects in the community. He said the fair could use 10 sawhorses to use for parking control.

"Ideally, I think I would like one ... where we can take one bar out," Smith said, "but we will not turn down anything that is white with orange stripes on it."

Board member Scott Doney said they are going to try to get some new vehicles, such as a larger tractor to help with the grounds because the winter was very harsh on the outside arena area. He said construction plans are going to continue once the land dries out.

Some underground power lines need work, board member Jack Solomon said, but Hill County Electric Cooperative electrician Terry O'Leary is going to come out to the fairgrounds to check it out, he added.

Smith said that the policy committee met and is working on some changes. The committee added an auction contract and a grounds contract.

Board member Ray Kallenberger said the monthly income last month was $2,250 and the expenses were $5,370.

Kallenberger said that by putting LED lights in the Bigger Better Barn it will cut the electric bill by 30-35 percent.

"That will help a lot," Kallenberger said.

He said that the biggest income for the fairgrounds are the funds raised by stall and house rental and they are trying to find other ways to raise money by looking at the prices for other services.

"We sat down and took this price sheet and tweaked it," Kallenberger added. "Some things we left alone, some things we raised a little bit and some things we lowered just a little bit."

Some of the items that will be left the same are concessions and beer, and prices that will be going up are arena, lights use and camping.

Smith said they also decided to change the open riding contract from one year from sign-up to yearly contracts that always go from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31.

The board and public then discussed possibly raising the riding day membership to $40. Smith said the board will vote on it during the next meeting.

The board introduced some new ideas to generate revenue. Kallenberger said they are considering day sponsorship on arena sponsorship boards, and Smith said they would like to purchase an electronic readerboard that they can sell advertisement on.

Smith added that they are now considering whether to purchase a cheaper readerboard that will last about three years or a more expensive one that can cost $10,000.

"We will probably go with the cheap one," Smith said, adding that it is better to purchase the cheaper one because technology will advance and it is better to test out the idea before buying a more expensive one.

Board member Chelby Gooch said that they will have the fair event schedule and carnival posters finalized by next meeting.

The board moved on to old business, talking about possibly moving the fair back to August next year as well as discussing different companies the board can consider contracting for future carnivals.

"We want some options," Smith said.

The board voted on the parking fees for the fair this year, $5 per vehicle per day or $20 per vehicle for the week, and it was passed unanimously. At the next meeting they will vote about other changes in fees for the fair.

After the votes, the fair board moved onto new business, where Smith explained his idea of a tax increase which would provide 4 mills - one for operations, two for current projects and one for future projects - for the fairgrounds. He said this is an ongoing project that they are working on now.

The board also heard an update from volunteer promotions manager, Kelly Ferguson. Ferguson said she has been talking to possible vendors for the fair and wanted to confirm the prices, layouts and rules for the booths.

She said that some business owners would like to have a booth but have been told no. Board secretary Linda Ferguson explained that the food booths must be up to sanitation code as well as have water and electricity, and that is why some food vendors are turned away.

"There are only so many spots with electricity," Ferguson said.

Kelly Ferguson said that some of the senior citizens in the community are concerned about not being able to find handicapped spots at the fair, so it was discussed about possibly organizing a bus or shuttle program from the North Central Senior Citizens Center.

Ferguson also talked about locating certain grants that could help the fair succeed as well as tapping the Business Department students from Montana State University-Northern to work on projects. She also mentioned that a former Northern football player would like to help raise money by hosting a fundraising hip-hop concert at the fairgrounds.

The board finished up the meeting by talking about Ferguson's idea to hold a bingo fundraiser at Northern Winz Casino, who offered a room to use for free. Ferguson said that the owners of the casino would like to help out the fair.

Doney said he agreed that this is a good idea.

"We would like to try to establish a relationship (with the casino owners) again," Doney said.

 

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