Fair board gets a little relief

Robert Blackford/Editor

Mercer County Fair Board President Roger Grundstrom reported to the board that it will save money on its insurance costs this year at Tuesday's April 21, 2009 meeting. Grundstrom said he completed the renewal process and the cost to the board will be $19,325. That is a savings of more than $500 from last year. "That's kind of good news," said Grundstrom.

Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds Vernon Swearingen said, "It used to be more than $23,000.

Grundstrom said, "We've been diligent in getting certificates of insurance (from vendors operating on the fairgrounds during the fair). We will be proactive in getting insurance proofs prior to the fair." The Mercer County Fair dates are July 13 - 18, 2009.

Grundstrom said he would delve into the fireworks question next month. Grundstrom felt confident the fairgrounds could host the fireworks as long as they can get insurance through the group providing the fireworks.

The private hog show the Saturday just prior to the fair is still on. The fair board will receive a flat $500 fee for rent and $150 for utilities.

The board accepted the resignation of Chuck Adams as a member of the fair board. Grundstrom said, "He felt he was not doing the board right." Chuck has not been able to attend meetings because of his job.

The board appointed Tommy Adams to fill Chuck's seat on the board. Tommy will represent Greene Township.

Grundstrom and Rita Williams represented the Mercer County at a Springfield meeting sponsored by the Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs. The meeting was meant to give fair board members a chance to meet with legislators and tell them how crucial it was to secure funding for future fairs. Grundstrom said there were more than 100 people there representing county fairs but admitted he was disappointed in the number of representatives there.

Grundstrom called State Rep. John Sullivan "the biggest supporter in the Senate for the fairs."

Grundstrom added, "Sullivan said it was going to be a tough sale." According to Grundstrom, Sullivan said the legislature wants to have a budget in place by the end of the May session.

Grundstrom said Aledo Main Street Program Director Pam Myer is willing to help the fair. "She is working on different ideas. She suggested linking our website (mercercountyfair.org) to the aledomainstreet.com."

The board agreed to have a dog demonstration on Wednesday night, during the fair, just prior to the tug of war. The show will start at 5:45 p.m. and finish no later than 6:20 p.m. in front of the grand stand.

Grundstrom handed out forms to members where they were encouraged to list the amount of labor they donated for specific projects during the year. The board can reclaim money from the state for donated hours of labor.

The board set a June 20 for 4-H members to come to the fairgrounds and paint.

4-H advisor Becky Zwilling told the board she would organize the 4-Hers. The 4-H barbecue is set for June 12.

The 4-Hers will be painting the ticket booth and some fence.

Swearingen received permission to plant about 10 acres of corn on the fairgrounds. Swearingen felt he could get the materials and items donated for free. He feels he can net about $3,000 off of the 10 acres.