homepage logo


Fair meeting had surprising news

By Staff | Nov 6, 2016

Some of our readers may find the information about the Faribault County Fair to be, well, pretty shocking. Others may not be surprised a bit.

The surprise could be learning just how much money it takes to put on the fair. After all, $159,000 is a pretty good chunk of change for some folks. Me included.

But, my surprise was actually more along the line that I expected the figure to be higher. With so much going on every year at the fair, I knew it had to cost a pretty tidy sum to put all that activity on for five days.

It takes some cash to put that kind of a production together and just about every part of it costs money.

The other surprise for some might be that the fair only “took in” $103,000.

Again, it doesn’t shock me. With the extreme heat and humidity during much of the fair, the crowds were really down. Especially for the grandstand shows. They were a money-loser for sure.

The fair spent about $30,000 on those grandstand shows, and had income from them at about $18,000.

But then, you probably need to throw in all of those free shows that go on under the tent, in the Veterans Memorial Building and just around the fairgrounds in general.

That free entertainment wasn’t really free. It cost the fair board around $16,000.

Another surprise might be where the fair board does get its money. The biggest source? Donations.

They get over $32,000 in “sponsorships” basically businesses and others helping sponsor the fair.

Another is a “donation” from the County Board. Last year that amount was $10,000. For this next year’s fair the commissioners voted just last Tuesday, in fact to up the amount to $15,000. Whether you agree with the county helping subsidize the fair or not, it seems to be necessary.

Other income includes money from parking fees, which is usually around $22,000, but last summer was down to $14,000. There are those suggesting that the parking should be free or at least a lesser amount than what it is. The idea is to encourage attendance, not discourage it.

On the other hand, giving up $20,000 in income when times are tight, isn’t easy to do. That is how much the parking fees bring in.

The income from farmland that was given to the fair board a few years ago doesn’t count towards the income generated by the fair. That income comes into the Faribault County Agricultural Society, which is the group that operates the fair, and has for its 150-plus years of operation.

But, of course, that money does end up subsidizing the losses incurred by the fair.

Another shock to some may be that the fair (oops, I mean the Ag Society), owes money. They have borrowed money to build and maintain buildings, operate the fair, and pay for things like farm expenses.

All of this comes down to the fact that operating the Faribault County Fair each year is not cheap.

And, just like farming or operating any small town business, it is a gamble.

You just don’t know what is going to happen each year. Farmers wonder what will the crop prices be, how will the weather affect the yield? Businesses try to predict how many customers will come through their business’ doors?

And, for the fair it is much the same thing. The fair board can’t predict what will happen, especially with the weather. This year they got burned. Almost literally.

It was miserably hot, but it was also unbelievably humid. It was beyond just being uncomfortable, and beyond being unbearable, it was dangerous. People were being warned to stay inside in air conditioning.

Many of the fair board members, at the annual meeting last Tuesday, said they could not blame the people of the county for not showing up because of the weather.

And, that is a shame. The Faribault County Fair should be a place for people from all around the county and beyond to get together for a good time. We certainly hope the fair board can creatively solve the financial issues created by something beyond their control the weather.

They are already looking at a wide variety of things they can do, both to save some money and to generate extra income.

One of those is to go from a five day fair down to a four day fair, which might also shock some people.

But, I think that should be just fine.

Now, if we can just find a way to guarantee a beautiful week of weather for July 26-29, 2017.