Sanders County Ledger - Your Best Source For Sanders County News

By Ed Moreth 

Fair board holds annual critique


September 26, 2019

Ed Moreth

FAIR CRITIQUE – Sanders County Fair Commission Chairman Randy Woods discusses how the fair went this year and the improvements he'd like to make.

The chairman of the Sanders County Fair Commission gave this year's fair a top grade, although that doesn't mean there weren't minor problems, according to Randy Woods, who took over as the board leader earlier this year.

Fair Manager Melissa Cady said at the September fair board meeting last Wednesday that the fair grossed more than $190,000, so far. She said not all the payments are in and not all claims have been paid out, so the fair profits have not been tallied, but Woods believes the fair gross will be well over $200,000. Last year's gross was around $162,000.

Event ticket sales were up across the board, according to Cady. The Friday rodeo fetched just over $20,000. Saturday's rodeo sales this year were $42,250. Thursday's bull riding sales were $10,279. Both were up from 2018. "First of all Powder River Rodeo LLC and D&H Cattle are one of the top stock contractors in the PRCA," said Cady, who added that they raise their own animals and bring the best athletes in the PRCA.

"We had some of the top riders here and many of the horses also will be at the NFR. You don't get to see that in many small town rodeos," said Cady. They had 29 bull riders at Thursday's event and 109 competitors at the two rodeos. Woods said there were complaints about no bull riders at Saturday's rodeo. He said three riders were scheduled, but did not show.  

The demolition derby, by far the biggest moneymaker, was $80,265.38. Parking revenue was almost $30,000. Sales from Paradise Amusements Carnival have not been finalized, said Cady. Revenue from the food and drink concession vendors was almost $27,000, including $13,228 from the Beer Garden sales, which was run by the Sanders County Fair Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides money for fair items not in the normal budget.

Woods said it's tough to compare specific sales of past years because not all sales in the past were run through Vendini, an online event ticketing software program. He believes the fair had record crowds, based on event ticket sales and concession owner feedback.

Woods said it was an outstanding fair, but there's always room for improvement. He noted that there were some minor problems, such as leaks in two booths, restrooms not being totally handicap accessible, as well as handicap inaccessibility in the main arena. He plans to move Bobby Mayes and his antique engines to a space near the front fence, along with others who are interested in displaying their antique tractors.

There were nearly 90 comments on Sanders County 411. Most of the negative remarks were on the demolition derby, the rodeos, a lack of carnival rides, and high food costs. However, there were some positive comments, too.

Participants at the annual critique had mostly positive comments. Don Burrell, president of the Sanders County Concessions Group, said the nonprofit organization did well, although final numbers hadn't come in at the time of the critique. He mentioned that other vendors were selling water and that, according to their contract with the fair, the Concessions Group was to have the only water sales.

Amy Gray of the Hot Springs Ambulance reported that they treated only about 20 people in the first aid tent - way down from 2018 - and Hot Springs and Plains Community Ambulances  took only four people to the hospital.

Juli Thurston, the extension agent in charge of the 4-H program, noted things went well for 4-H, except when a freezer failed and spoiled some of the food they were to serve in the pavilion. She said the 4-H'ers fetched $111,593.75 at the Sunday stock sale. The 20 head of beef went for $59,803.75. The 44 swine totaled $47,325. Three sheep sold for $2,287 and the three goats went for $933.

Plains Lions Club President Steve Spurr said there were some minor problems with the club's part in the derby, but overall it was a good fundraiser for the club. He told the board he's still working on getting concrete Jersey barriers for next year's fair. He said the railroad is offering numerous barriers for free and they'll get them to Plains, but someone else would have to get them to the fairgrounds.

The biggest contention the Lions had to deal with was when the man who was helping with the derby, Brice Bomgardner, wanted to get paid, first $1,500, then $2,000. The Lions Club members said Bomgardner told them he'd do it for free. Spurr told the board Lions would not pay him. Woods said the fair paid him the $2,000.

During the meeting, Rick Sanders of Thompson Falls told the board he'd like to work the demolition derby. He said he's been a derby driver for 37 years, winning four times, and believes he can revitalize the derby. "I want to rebuild the derby to get more cars in it. Thirteen cars is the lowest car count we've ever had," said Sanders, who believes adding more classes will help add cars. Sanders plans to meet with the fair commission to discuss the situation.

Woods also gave high marks to the new fair manager, who he said was on the grounds during fair from the early morning hours till after midnight. "She was always there all day working, not putting out fires, but preventing the fires from starting," he said. Woods said that all contracts - carnival, rodeo, parking, Lions Club, EMS, cleaning, and search and rescue - are up this year. He said the board will start working on contracts for the 2020 fair sometime in January.


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