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Richardton area brings fresh ideas to fair association meeting

RICHARDTON -- The Stark County Fair Association public input meeting held in Richardton Tuesday afternoon brought plenty of new ideas and concerns regarding the development of 56.38 acres in west Dickinson that are set aside for the fair board to use.

The Richardton meeting was the third of four meetings held to give Stark County residents a chance to express opinions and ideas about a fairground.

Kurt Froelich, chairperson of the fair board, began the meeting by reminding residents the meetings are being held to generate ideas on how to utilize the land.

"We've got some ideas, but we don't have plans," Froelich said.

As with the meetings held in January, money was a concern to some individuals who attended Tuesday's meeting.

"Has anybody got any idea what it is going to cost?" Philip Messer of Richardton asked.

A former county commissioner, Messer felt the cost to simply prepare the grounds for any kind of usage would be overwhelming. Fair board member Bob Zent said the current idea is to fit plans into the existing terrain.

"When we get to placing something out there, it's going to get shuffled around until it fits the topography," Zent said.

Ron Lisko of Dickinson feels if the fairgrounds are going to be successful, a central facility should be established. He also suggested the land be used for car shows, a paintball area and a place to accommodate campers and mobile homes.

As with previous meetings, many people who attended Richardton's meeting wanted a fairgrounds to be used for agricultural purposes.

Messer suggested an area be set aside for 4-H, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

"One of the fastest growing programs in 4-H is outdoor skills programs," Froelich said.

He added archery is included in these programs and may be an area of interest.

Messer also suggested a multi-purpose, all-season building be used for horse and cattle shows and rodeos.

Scott Kleeman, who is a coach for the Dickinson State University rodeo team, stressed the importance of proper planning when making final building decisions. He said seating and clean up, among other considerations, should be addressed.

"There is so much integrated on a lower level," Kleeman said.

Stark County Commissioner George Nodland feels collaboration with DSU will make a fairgrounds successful.

"I think that's big. Once you have that solved you're going to have a lot of people in Stark County behind you," Nodland said.

Messer inquired about other counties contributing to the fairgrounds. He thought Billings and Dunn counties were part of the original plan for the area. Fair board member Wally Wald didn't believe any other county had been contacted in regard to a fairgrounds.

"I'm sure they will be contacted when we get going with this a little further," Wald said.

Julie Hoff, supervisor of the Central Stark County Soil Conservation District, proposed an area be used for a cooler large enough to accommodate trees.

"We've outgrown our tree storage," Hoff said.

Nodland emphasized the need for a youth facility, along with activities to entertain area teenagers. He would like to see an establishment to replace Dickinson's former teen center.

"Sustainability is a problem with youth groups," Zent said.

Zent added youth groups are often difficult to fund.

Park board member Connie Monson pointed out many youth fundraisers could utilize the fairgrounds.

Donna Reich of Richardton would like to see a facility with acoustics suitable for musical performances.

"There is a lot of musical talent around here, but I don't think there's a place to utilize it," Reich said.

She also proposed an area to accommodate events which draw large crowds of people such as weddings and similar celebrations.

Other ideas voiced at the meeting were a convention cenpter for meetings and conferences, and areas for dog shows, a shooting range and motorcycle shows.

"I think the key is to build flexibility into a building," Gaylon Baker of Dickinson said.