After months without a quorum the Great Northern Fair Board, including its two newest members, Kaleb Fisher and Ken Erickson, met Tuesday night and heard an update on the myriad events set up for next year’s fair.
Great Northern Fairgrounds Manager Frank English said he’s lined up 44 entertainment events for next year’s fair, double that of this year’s 22, including a mechanical bull ride, a petting zoo, magicians and hypnotists, clowns and a number of live music events.
English said despite the much-larger lineup for this coming year’s fair, the collective cost for all of these events is only about $1,000 more than last year, an increase of less than 10 percent.
He requested the board members approve the contracts for these events in order to lock in entertainment as soon as possible, but some members had some concerns over the proposed schedule of events, with Erickson expressing particular concerns about the demolition derby’s placement on the schedule.
English said events can be moved around later and that he’s only asking to have the pay contract approved so he can be sure all of these events will actually be there, and the board obliged, voting unanimously to approve the contracts.
English also provided a report of what is going on at the fairgrounds right now.
He said the Commercial Building is being used to store classic cars and still has room for anyone interested, though he said the cars cannot be more than 7 feet wide or 7 feet tall.
He said he’s also looking to hire a cleanup crew for the fairgrounds and encouraged anyone interested to get in touch with the fair.
During the update, board member Michelle Burchard said the Halloween Escape Room the grounds hosted ended up making almost $800 for them and the Christmas-themed escape room is consistently getting filled.
She said regularly scheduled escape rooms like this throughout the year could be a serious moneymaker for the fairgrounds.
The board also entertained a lengthy discussion about the particulars of various proposed projects being planned for structures on the fairgrounds, including repairs to the former office building, remodeling of the Bigger Better Barn’s bathrooms and possibly replacing the bathrooms near the Community Center.
Board member Bob Kaul said a lot of planning and investigation into the feasibility and cost of many of these projects has been going on in the background for the last few month, and now that the board can vote on things again they all need to get together to create a three- to five-year plan for the grounds and lay out their priorities.
“We’ve got so much on our plates right now that we don’t know where we need to jump in first,” Kaul said. “That’s why this board needs to get together and get our priority one.”
He said plans are being drawn up for what is needed to repair the old office building, and money is set aside for the Bigger Better Barn’s bathroom remodeling, which will include new heaters, but it’s likely that the cost of the project will exceed the amount of money they have.
As for the bathrooms near the community center, Kaul said he’s been in contact with an outfit in Texas which pre-builds bathrooms and transports them where they need to go.
He said he thinks priority one should be the repairs to the office building so they can take English’s office out of the trailer house on the fairgrounds and then bring that up to date and rent it out again.
Burchard and Kaul said there are a few possibilities for grants to pay for some of these projects, but they agreed to get more information from Craig Erickson of Great West Engineering before they start asking Bear Paw Development Corp. for any assistance.
Burchard suggested that the four of them get together shortly after Jan. 1 to put a plan together, a suggestion that met with approval from the other board members.
The board also talked about the need for a new hot water heater in the Community Center, and voted unanimously to purchase English a new laptop for up to $900.
Members also discussed the possibility of installing new cameras on the grounds so they can be monitored better during events, and Hill County Commissioner Diane McLean, who attended the meeting as a member of the public, said she’d see if the Hill County Sheriff’s Office had any that they weren’t using.
The board also discussed purchasing a defibrillator for the grounds, but decided they needed more information before voting on the matter.