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This years' events front and center at recent Fair Board meeting

CHEYENNE COUNTY – The Cheyenne County Fair Board (CCFB) met to discuss a number of topics, such as the various planning stages for a variety of events it is planning, improvements to the fairgrounds and requirements for certain events still left to address.

CCFB Treasurer Kip Miller gave his report about the current fair budget to other members in attendance: CCFB President Troy Kurz, Vice President Pat Finney and CCFB Board Members Jason Juracek, Tyler Bailey, Ryan Filsinger, Zach Oliverius and CCFB Secretary Shelby Roelle were in attendance.

According to Miller, currently the board can expect to spend roughly $142,039 for this years' fair when all said and done; since July 1, 2022, the fair board has taken in $20,508.08. Currently in the fair board account, according to Miller, the fair board had $149,679 as of April 30, 2023, which is an increase from the previous month. The fairs' budget for this year is $134,100.

Miller advised the board the last day to turn in warrants to Cheyenne County Clerk Beth Fiegenschuh is June 14, adding he needed outstanding warrants by June 13 if the board would like to have them paid on the current fiscal year budget. He also stated those who have not turned in banners have until June 15 to submit, so that the banners can be sent off in time.

The board briefly discussed invoices for food vendors, invoices for scholarships and invoices for both the buckles for the rodeo events and sashes for the fair royalty.

The board unanimously voted to approve the treasurer's report, with only Miller abstaining due to his role as treasurer.

Before moving into old business and presentations from two event committees, the board reviewed correspondences it had received.

Filsinger presented an update regarding the beer garden and told other board members the fair had five applications for each of the five nights pending approval and would notify those organizations of an approval before the next board meeting.

When asked about the liquor licensing requirements, Kurz stated the board needs to get the Cheyenne County Commissioners to sign off on it before they can submit their application to the state. However, another board member responsible for the liquor licensing did not have a current time estimation on when they could submit the application due to the board still working on details.

The Sun-Telegraph contacted the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission (NLCC) to inquire about the process of requesting a temporary event liquor license and to ask about security requirements. NLCC Special Designated Licenses (SDL) Manager Misty Wessel told the Sun-Telegraph the time frame would depend on the license itself and could take anywhere from 10 days or longer to appear in their system before they could go through the process of reviewing it for approval. Wessel further explained some licensing is cut and dry and can be expedited and some cannot because they require further documentation.

When asked what could potentially hold up a liquor license, Wessel said the most frequent reason is the number of available, local law enforcement and, or security to be hired or volunteering for the event could pause the approval of an application. Other potential and frequent reasons that hold up an approval include: a late application submission; a delayed, late application submission approval from the local governing body (such as county commissioners and, or city council); no notices sent to local law enforcement, fire marshal and sanitation division departments regarding the event and liquor licensing; and applicable fees aren't paid on time.

"There needs to be at least five law enforcement officers or designated security members for each 1,000 people at an event where alcohol consumption is permitted," Wessel explained to the Sun-Telegraph. Another six or seven law enforcement officers, at minimum, would be required for events where there are 1,200 to 1,400 people in attendance. For every 200 guests in attendance, the NLCC's SDL requires event organizers to provide one law enforcement or security individual the duration of the event.

Wessel provided the Sun-Telegraph with a three page copy of requirements and applicable statutory laws pertaining to entities applying for SDL's for events, such as fairs and festivals; this information can be found on the NLCC website.

The board discussed how to handle free tickets it was giving to various sponsors or other entities for their collaborative work with the fair regarding how those should be invoiced and handled. The board president asked the rest in attendance if they needed to make an account for those and discussed how that should go. The board didn't make any decision on this, but agreed to look into it so they could keep an accurate record.

The first committee the board heard from during Juracek's report regarding the Military, Veteran and First Responders Appreciation Day was from from Shelly Sutherland and Gordy Wilkins.

Lodgepole resident, regional historian, U.S. Marine Veteran and proprietor of a Cowboy Coffee Chuckwagon Wilkins announced to the board he has documented county fairs in the Panhandle area for many years, however, had only documented two Cheyenne County Fair's in the past, and decided he would document this years' Cheyenne County Fair in addition to helping with the fair's Military, Veteran, First Responders Appreciation Day. He further explained there are only two fairs he has not had the chance to document in Western Nebraska, but that he has documented Gold Rush Days, the Cheyenne County Fair and Sidney Oktoberfest several times in the past; he added it has been some time since he last documented the Cheyenne County Fair.

Wilkins, who prefers to go by Gordy, gave a brief history about the area and Cheyenne County's Fair; Gordy said the Cheyenne County Fair is the oldest event in Cheyenne County, older than both Gold Rush Days, which was originally called Fort Sidney Day, and older than the second oldest event, Lodgepole Old Settlers' Days.

"What I'm going to bring to you – is the idea that you're serving," Gordy told the board. "You're serving the Cheyenne County – it's a thankless job."

Juracek continued by presenting a rough timeline of the CCF Military, Veteran and First Responders Appreciation Day on Wednesday, July 26, as presented by Sutherland and Gordy.

These times and events could potentially change depending on availability, commitments and supplies, the following timeline has not been finalized or approved yet and remains a work-in-progress:

6:30 a.m .: Mounted Color Guard at north side of fairgrounds arena;

6:45 a.m .: Mounted Color Guard start their path to the grounds flagstaff;

7:00 a.m .: Morning Colors played with Reveille, the raising of the flag at the grounds flagstaff with ground Color Guard present and Mounted Color Guard stand by;

7:30 a.m .: Military vehicles and displays begin;

9:00 a.m .: CPR and First Aid Class in 4H Building;

4:00 p.m .: Sidney Police Department (SPD) demonstration;

5:00 p.m .: Free meal for military, veterans and first responders begin at 4H building, catering provided by Gurley-based Outlaws Cafe and Catering;

6:00 p.m .: Arena gates and Beer Garden open;

7:00 p.m .: Quilt of Valor Presentation from Cheyenne County Extension Office;

7:15 p.m .: Arena Demonstration – details pending, however, will include Army Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard; Fort Riley, Kansas;

9:00 p.m .: Flag Retirement ceremony and other potential demonstrations.

Additional details about the timeline and events will be presented to the public at a later time, such as the cost of the CPR, First Aid class, the meal being served for the Military, Veteran and First Responders Appreciation Day.

There will be other nonscheduled activities for the events on Wednesday, such as Gordy's Cowboy Coffee Chuckwagon, a Military face paint station for kids, allowing kids to try on various gear from first responders, military and agencies, potentially other demonstrations which are still being worked out and potentially a physical event, such as a zip line.

Sutherland and Gordy are working with area VFW's, American Legions, the DAV and the Cheyenne Veteran Public Affairs Office to set up events and informational tables the day of the event. Additionally, at least two branches of the military will be present with recruiters and information about their branches; Gordy and Sutherland are still working out details of potentially having a military fly over.

Sutherland and Gordy asked the board if they would be willing to join other anonymous sponsors in buying the first round of drinks for Veterans, Military members and First Responders who are in attendance, the board stated it could be a possibility, but that they would need to discuss it further.

Another option Gordy and Sutherland gave to the board to consider, is pitching in to help pay for the free dinner from Outlaw.

A concern the board had regarding sponsoring a free drink for the military, veterans and first responders, is how to handle ticket sales and identification checks of these members. The board floated a few ideas out, but decided they would need to take some time to figure out how it would work to where it did not cause additional work on behalf of the volunteer ticket sellers and identification checkers.

Sutherland explained how they worked out an agreement with Outlaw to provide the meal for a certain price point, and asked if the fair board would like to make a contribution toward the price of the free dinners as a way to thank the military, veterans and first responders who attend the event.

After some discussion, wondering about prices and what would happen to the left-over, unused meals, the board said they would have to discuss it further as a board and make a decision at a future board meeting.

In response to the board's inquiry about what the team would do with leftover meals, Gordy and Sutherland explained the various military, veteran and first responder organizations have already predetermined, with volunteers, they would pack the meals up and take those to the homes of veterans and first responders who are not mobile to attend the fair, or for other reasons, could not be at the fair.

"Concerning the meals left over, we would pack those up, and with our team of volunteers, take those to veterans in their homes who were unable to attend the free meal," Sutherland explained.

The board discussed the potential of having a 21-Gun Salute at some point during the day, they discussed what part of the fairgrounds, what time and what kind of blanks to use. Ultimately, the board stated they would like to discuss the matter with the superintendents and would like to have Gordy return to a future fair board to give them a demonstration to judge how loud it could potentially be. The concern is jarring, scaring or potentially causing an animal to cause itself harm with an unfamiliar loud sound. Gordy agreed to be at the next fair board meeting to provide the fair board with the gun demonstration to determine how loud the 21-gun salute would be and if it would potentially impact the animals at the fair.

Sutherland gave a quick update regarding the Derby, more details about this will be in a future Sun-Telegraph story.

The board than heard from the Rodeo Committee, and a presentation from Riley Haug.

"Everything with the Cowboy Channel is up and rolling," Haug told the board. "The big screen guy has already reached out to me, so that's usually a good sign – that usually means the Cowboy Channel has told him 'yeah' (as it relates to the application status to be on the channel for the rodeo event), but I don't to get too far ahead."

Haug asked the board if they had a preference in where the big screen goes and told them the placement and hanging of the big screen would be the responsibility of the fair.

"So everything's going to be mobile – some places mount it (the screen) to a pole somewhere, some bring in a crane, some bring in a telehandler – and if you guys can give me a contact with somewhere around here, that we might be able to help with," Haug explained.

The board discussed ideas and possibilities to address Haug's question and information and decided they would have an update at the next board meeting.

The Rodeo committee is working with an all-star line up from Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and secure the famous Gizmo McCracken rodeo clown. Additionally, the team is working to secure two equally impressive rodeo announcers, Seth Roy and Anthony Lucia.

The board also discussed other rodeo events, such as the Mutton Busting event for youth to attend. The Rodeo committee presented a rough draft of guidelines and expectations to the board along with entry requirements. After some discussion, the board decided to finalize these items with the rodeo committee at a future time.

The board briefly discussed a number of other old business items, such as the west bathrooms update, food vendors line-up (which is in the process of being finalized), other vendors applications and the Rodeo Queen update. All items the board said it would finalize at a future meeting.

Lastly, the board discussed its marketing plan. The board approved the plan to market with media organizations outside of Cheyenne County during the meeting and tabled a marketing plan with media agencies within the county.

One board member expressed an opinion he felt the fair shouldn't be charged for marketing with local media and that he preferred to market with media agencies surrounding Cheyenne County.

The board has a marketing budget of $10,400; in which they decided to approve marketing packages with Media Logic in Sterling, Colorado; news organizations in Alliance, Scottsbluff and iHeart Radio in Ogallalla. The vote to approve this media package, excluding and tabling media packages with local media, was 5-to-2,

After the board meeting, the Sun-Telegraph reached out to board president Kurz, who issued this statement:

"The fair board is continuing to work diligently on bringing a terrific fair to Cheyenne County in 2023. We have an exciting week of events planned and are grateful for the support and sponsorships to do so."

Adding, "As approved in our May 22 meeting, we have broadened our advertising package to be more divers, including print, radio, social media and posters to name a few."

"New this year, we have extended our reach through radio in surrounding communities in an effort to attract those not familiar with out fair," Kurz explained. "In addition to widening our reach, we approved funds to be allocated to local community advertisers, the Sidney Sun-Telegraph and Flood Communications, specifically."

In a phone discussion later, Kurz explained this was decided in an executive meeting held after the regularly scheduled board meeting on Monday.

"We have an expanded, diverse strategy to bring as many people to the fair as possible," Kurz further elaborated about. "That benefits our sponsors, vendors and revenues to help us keep this fair growing year-after-year."

Further explaining, Kurz wrote, "We are finalizing the details of our advertising strategy and plan to launch in the near future."

"If you haven't been contacted by a fair board member and are interested in sponsorship opportunities or just want to learn more, please visit our new and improved website at for more information," Kurz finished with.

The next regularly scheduled CCFB meeting will be June 12, starting at 6:30 p.m., inside the fair office building at the Cheyenne County Fairgrounds, 10955 Highway 30, Sidney. Due to scheduling conflicts with county school board meetings, Sidney Sun-Telegraph Sports Editor Mike Motz will be covering the first regularly scheduled fair board meetings each month and Senior Investigative Reporter A. Marie Hamilton will cover the second regularly scheduled fair board meetings each month.


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