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English starts as Great Northern Fairgrounds manager


Havre Daily News/Ryan Berry

Frank English is the new fairgrounds manager at the great Northern Fair.

Frank English has taken over as the Great Northern Fairgrounds manager, just in time for the 2019 Great Northern Fair.

The Great Northern Fair Board hired English Tuesday, June 19.

"I was born and raised here, so I want to make it a better place," English said. "When the job came up, I thought this was my opportunity to bust my butt, work as hard as I can, show people it can be done and we can make it a better place."

Preparations are already underway at the grounds for this year's Great Northern Fair, with Hill County 4-H starting cleanup of the barns and setting up Sunday and the fair starting to accept open exhibit entries at 4 this afternoon. Open exhibit entries also will be accepted Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. with judging Wednesday from 8 a.m. to noon.

Most of the main attractions at the fair start Wednesday, including open exhibit viewing starting at noon, the carnival opening at 4 p.m. and the Junior Rodeo kicking off arena entertainment Wednesday night.

The Great Northern Fair Board has been searching for a manager for some time.

After the fair board ran into budget difficulties last year, the Hill County Commission furloughed former manager Dave Brewer as the board attempted to reconcile its budget. Brewer later resigned and the fair board members and other volunteers ran the 2018 fair and managed the grounds until hiring English.

Members of the board said during meetings that English should be able to handle the job.

"The board chose him because of his handy-man experience and his ability to make the required repairs around the grounds," Fair Board Chair Tyler Smith said in an interview last week.

English, who was born and raised in Havre, has a history in construction having worked for Clausen & Sons out of high school for a few years, he said. Following his time in construction, he spent about five years working in oil fields.

After his time in the oil fields, he was called to go to Iraq in 2003 for a couple years then came home in 2005. In Iraq, he worked as a heavy wheel vehicle mechanic and worked in convoy security and recovery.

English said he started his own construction company a few years ago, with himself the only employee, doing projects with drywall, concrete and more.

English began as a county employee in June and said this is a full time job for four months then for the rest of time will go to three-quarter time. During the time in between he will continue his independent contracting.

The county hired a seasonal crew to help him during the fair, as well.

English's duties as a fair manager include coordinating the fairgrounds, helping people who use the fairgrounds and determining the type of work that needs to be done to upkeep the property.

"I want to keep as many buildings up here as I can without tearing them down. I want to keep them and repair them, if it is feasible to repair them," English said.

He said one job is scraping paint to get rid of all the paint chips. He would like to encapsulate buildings if they are in good shape, putting tin on all the buildings, if money is available in the Great Northern Fair budget.

"I am trying to make everything look better, but right now I am trying to make everything functional," English said. "There are so many projects up here you are jumping from this to that to the other trying to get as much as you can done."

English said his top priority right now is to make sure to get everything safe and functional. That includes getting all the fire extinguishers checked out and hung up and to make the sure all the buildings have the right amount in the proper places for safety.

Another priority he listed is to get everything working. The water and plumbing systems have had problems in the barns, but are mostly fixed. One thing that is in the budget and in the works is filling the potholes as much as they can, he said.

"There is a lot of hoops you have to jump through, I guess, to get things done and accomplished and a lot of logistics," English said.

The fair board also tasked English with looking for entertainment to book at the fairgrounds because he does production and has friends in the music industry and can get available bands.

English said that he is open to taking ideas from the public for entertainment and for people willing to volunteer to help at the fairgrounds.


Havre Daily News Managing Editor Tim Leeds contributed to this report.


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