Fair board makes cuts to stay afloat

Robert Blackford/Editor

Members of the Mercer County Fair Board raised entry fees and cut premiums at its March 17 board meeting.

Fair board president Roger Grundstrom said he knows of at least three boards that have cancelled their fairs this year. "Many are cutting their premiums. Some are having no carnivals. Some are having no night time events."

Grundstrom told the board they were having problems renewing their insurance and that in the future he and Rich Maynard will go through each of the buildings on the fairgrounds and estimate the wiring in each of the buildings.

The board discussed cutting its premiums and raising entry fees and decided that if they were going to do it, now was the time so the board could put the changes in the fair book.

Grundstrom said some of the fair boards around the state are making 30 percent across the board cuts.

"I don't see any way if we let this ride we are not going to be back here in June  making cuts," said Grundstrom.

He urged members to watch the Gov. Quinn's address on March 18 to get an idea of the what the future holds for the Mercer County Fair Board and other fairs across the state. Grundstrom said the last he had heard the state was in the hole about $11.5 billion.

Grundstrom said the board receives about $50,000 in Rehab and premiums from the state each year to put on the fair but he isn't sure what money will be available this year or next year with all of the financial difficulties the state is in. The state has been cutting back on the money it gives the fair boards around the state in recent years.

"I'm more worried about education right now," said Grundstrom.

The fairgrounds will support a hog show the Saturday before the fair, July 11, to help raise money for the fairgrounds. It will be a point show. There will be a noon start time and the board expects about 200 head of hogs. 

Grundstrom told the board he made a mistake on the tractor pull noting there is a part of the money that the board won't be able to get back from the state. Grundstrom said the board has a contract with the people who run the tractor pull and can't cut it.

Grundstrom told the board that he didn't want any bills for labor between now and the fair unless it was for mowing. He also asked that any donated labor is turned in so the board can get reimbursed by the state.

"We don't really have any major renovations to do before the fair," said Grundstrom.

The board will install two new underground valves at the grandstand. Board members will do the labor themselves.

4-H Advisor Becky Zwilling told the board that a scale project converting the cattle scale to digital is nearly complete.

In other business:

• The board learned that ACE Camp has been cancelled this year.

• The board agreed to send representatives to the Springfield fo a meeting with Illinois Congressmen.

• The New Windsor Drill Team will return to the fair this year for the horse show.

• The board will look into purchasing a four drawer filing cabinent for the office.

• The board agreed to appoint Bob Bird to represent Abington Township.

• The fair will have a 4 x 4 truck tug of war on its Wednesday night show.