Fair Association may reorganize, dissolveThe Stark County Fair Association may refocus its goals and reorganize its board after losing promised funding for fairgrounds from the Stark County Commission earlier this year.
The Stark County Fair Association may refocus its goals and reorganize its board after losing promised funding for fairgrounds from the Stark County Commission earlier this year.
The association held a special meeting Tuesday at the Stark/Billings County Extension office to discuss how the board should move forward and what project, if any, they should pursue.
Terri Thiel, fair association member, suggested the board could reorganize and be comprised of two representatives from each marketing group, which would include the Southwest Speedway and the Roughrider Commission, among other groups.
“The meetings and the bylaws could be amended, that they would meet as needed with the marketing,” Thiel said.
Constructing a smaller facility was also discussed.
“The funding that we have accumulated, put aside for soft costs and things like that for a facility, a committee could be formed and an arena could be put up for 4-H strictly,” Thiel suggested. “We talked about not getting into liability issues with the general public, and that’s an issue if we go with a bigger facility.”
The Fair Association has been working to develop 56 acres on the west side of Dickinson into a multi-use fairgrounds complex to be constructed as funding became available.
A groundbreaking for the fairgrounds was held last summer.
The Stark County Park Board committed about $500,000 to the project two years ago. Revenue from the sale of county land on the northwest edge of Dickinson was also supposed to be committed in part to the fairgrounds, according to a previous Press article.
The Stark County Commission reportedly recommended those commitments.
Earlier this year, members of the Stark County Commission announced it will not provide the $500,000 pledged to the Stark County Fair Association as that money is no longer available. Commissioners also will not give them any revenue from the sale of county land.
In a letter dated April 1, sent by Duane “Bucky” Wolf, Stark County Commission chairman, both the County Commission and the Stark County Park Board “now believe that it would be wisest to attempt to canvass Stark County residents, perhaps by advisory vote, of the appropriateness of a $500,000 contribution to the Stark County Fair Association at this time.”
A few Fair Association members said during the meeting that they would not be returning at the end of their terms. Others said they would not wish to continue on the board if pursuing a big project no longer on the table.
“I myself, I don’t really want to be on the board if we’re not going to be pursuing a project,” said Preston Obrigewitsch, board member. “We are going to run into I think a lot of headaches if we don’t have the financial support from the county right now. I think it’s going to be very difficult to pursue that multi-use facility.
“I’m not interested in building just a smaller facility, I think we need it, but at this time, I don’t have any desire to do that.”
The board voted unanimously to bring Gary Satern, fairgrounds project consultant, to the next meeting, slated to be held May 24, in order to answer questions regarding designating the group a non-profit organization, and whether or not that may open doors for future funding, among other items.
Continued discussion at future meetings is expected to take place regarding the possibility of board reorganization, members said. At the present time, the board is comprised of 15 members.
The situation is sad, said Ron Jablonski, board member.
“Will this (project) surface again? Yeah, I think it will,” Jablonski said. “This is sad, but I agree with these guys, if we’re not going to go for the gusto and go for the big one, I just as soon bring some new folks in that have some new ideas to have some new energy that haven’t fought this fight for the last seven, eight, 10 years, 20, 30 years, like some of us.
“The real loser here is not all of us. The real loser here is the community. I think at some point folks will understand it.”