During a meeting held Sept. 24 at the fairgrounds in London, Madison County Senior Fair Board members answered questions about the 2007 fair and its intentions for the 2008 fair.
Board members agreed that overall, the 2007 Madison County fair went well and that it made out better this year than in previous years.
“The weather was great, the money was up, as well as attendance, and we came real close to breaking even,” said board member Dave Gallimore.
The board implemented a few changes at this year’s fair, including an admission fee for certain grandstand events and stricter enforcement of minimum weight requirements for Junior Fair livestock exhibits.
Board members said they anticipated complaints about the additional grand-stand fees, but were glad when no complaints came in.
Board member George Roby said Madison County’s grandstand event fee of $3 was a relative bargain.
“Other fairs charge a lot more than that, and by charging admission fees for the grandstands, we were able to break even this year,” Roby said.
Also regarding entertainment, the fair opted again to bring in truck pulls, tractor pulls and demolition derbies instead of sinking a large sum of money into booking big-name live musical entertainment for the grandstand.
“What starts out as a $7,000 entertainment fee has, in the past, ended up being $16,000,” Roby said. “It’s just not worth it. We don’t attract people from surrounding counties for big-name entertainment. We’ve got our grandstand entertainment down to where every night there is something that the public likes and will show-up for.”
In the last couple of years, the fair board has found a new way to keep live music in the fair’s entertainment lineup. Several local and regional acts have been hired to play at the bandstand at the Elm Street entrance. The board raised its budget for the bandstand schedule from $3,000 this year to $3,500 for next year.
The strict enforcement of minimum weight rules for Junior Fair livestock went through its first run at the 2007 fair.
Fair Secretary Brenda Roseberry commented, “It takes about a year for everyone to realize that these are the rules and we mean what we say. You could compare it to when everyone complained a few years ago about raising the (general) entrance admission fee by $1, but they still came back.”
Roby added that the reason they changed the weight rule was because the packers wanted it that way.
Preparing for 2008
Once they reviewed the 2007 fair, the fair board answered questions about the 2008 fair.
Preparation for next year began when this years’ fair ended.
Fisher said the board is ready to start making desperately needed improvements to the fairgrounds, but they are waiting to receive state and county funding.
“The OSU Department of Agriculture has recently changed its policy, and it is taking longer to get through the red tape. The money is there. We just can’t get to it, but we do expect to hear something by the first of October,” Fisher said.
Most of the improvements will not be finished until spring. At the top of the board’s wish list is installation of a speaker system that, among other things, will notify fair-goers of emergencies.
“We have people working on an evacuation plan just in case we ever need to evacuate people,” Fisher said.
The board also hopes to repair bleachers, provide better lighting and make repairs to numerous buildings on the fairgrounds.
“We would eventually like to install underground water and electric lines throughout the fairgrounds,” said board member Dennis Long.
Long added that if board members are capable of making improvements themselves, they will do it to save money.
“Right now our priorities are just making sure that the infrastructure is up to code and everything is working,” Fisher said.
Besides grounds work, the board also hopes to secure more sponsorships from area merchants, large and small, and see more public participation in the planning for the fair.
“This is not a London fair. This is a Madison County fair, and we want the public to come to our meetings. We want to hear their ideas. How can we know what they want if they don’t give us their input?” Fisher said.
Efforts also are being made to better synchronize communications among the various entities that put on the fair, from Senior Fair Board to Junior Fair Board to the Junior Livestock Sale Committee.
“We are the ones who are ultimately responsible for anything that happens during the fair, therefore, we are getting a better working relationship and becoming more like a team,” Fisher said.
In the spirit of helping out, Gallimore, who has been dedicated to fair planning in some form or other for 16 years, said, “I’ll be here ’til I die. Someone did it for me when I was a kid, so I’m going to do it for another child while I can.”
Beyond the fair, the board has plans to explore more possibilities for using the fairgrounds in the off-season, including tractor pulls in September 2008.