More setbacks with fair plansSeven of 14 members of the Stark County Fair Association resigned recently, but existing members intend to push on with developing a fairgrounds complex.
Seven of 14 members of the Stark County Fair Association resigned recently, but existing members intend to push on with developing a fairgrounds complex.
The resignations are one of many setbacks the Fair Association has encountered with the project since land west of Dickinson was acquired by Stark County in 1987.
“Being the new president I do feel a little bit lost, because there was a lot of knowledge and experience there,” member Bernie Marsh said.
He is confident former members will help if questions come up.
At least four of the members cite a reversal of pledged funding from the county as at least part of their reason for leaving the association.
In 2008, the Stark County Park Board committed $500,000 to the fairgrounds project, as well as funding from the sale of county land.
However, in April the Park Board and Stark County Commission wrote a letter stating the project was no longer “first in line” for consideration of proceeds from the sale of land. The letter also stated the county wanted residents to vote on whether $500,000 should be put toward the project.
“When the county took the money away from us, because of that, the city took the money away from us and I think it just pretty much took the wind out of our sails,” said Connie Monson, who resigned Oct. 25.
The Fair Association broke ground on 56 acres dedicated to the project in July 2009.
“We were moving toward a great project for the community and for southwest North Dakota and we kind of had the rug pulled out from underneath of us,” said Ron Jablonski, who resigned Oct. 25. “It’s hard to move forward and try to do good work when you don’t know and when you lack trust, quite honestly.”
He said the reversal was “unacceptable” and that many members feel “dejected.”
“There’s a lot of disappointment,” said Terri Thiel, who also resigned.
There may be misconceptions about the direction of the project she added.
“This was supposed to be a facility that could have been walking trails,” Thiel said. “It could have been for cross country skiing, there could’ve been a kite club out there.”
Several possibilities for a complex have been discussed, Thiel said.
Many of those who resigned also cited lack of time to commit to the board. Former Chairman Kurt Froelich said that was his only reason.
Marsh said the Fair Association will continue to develop a fairgrounds complex. The group also works to put on the Roughrider Days Fair and Expo every summer and will continue to.
“I’m excited to be working with the people who I’m working with and I think that restructuring, we’ve got to sit down and regroup and start forward again,” he said, adding the association will fill the vacancies.