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Fair Board Discusses 2024 Events, Difficulties Finding Carnival

SIDNEY--The Cheyenne County Fair Board held its regular meeting on Monday, November 27 at the Fair- grounds Office, and a number of issues were discussed regarding finalizing expenses for the 2023 Fair and the events to be offered at the 2024 Fair, which is scheduled for July 21 through July 27. After the meeting was opened at 6:30 p.m., the minutes from last month's meeting were approved, and Kip Miller gave the Treasure's report.

Miller stated the Fair Board had $218,217.27 left in their budget, and about $7,700 in the checking account. He also stated that the Fair Board had received a reimbursement check of about $1,000 for the Big Screen television used at last year's Fair. There was some discussion concerning bills from Allo Communications that were continuing, and a confirmation that the Gurley Fire Department had received their disbursement.

Laura Narjes then spoke and said that Cassie Challburg had agreed to take over management of the Open Class events, as Narjes was leaving her position as 4-H Extension Educator. Narjes said that Challburg would be able to manage the Open Class event and judging with the help of volunteers that she would get for the Fair. The Open Class judging might have to be moved to Sunday afternoon to fit schedules and accommodate 4-H judges. Narjes also talked about a concern with last year's Open Class animal show, specifically insurance-related issues concerning children handling and interacting with animals. Narjes said to avoid any problems with insurance, a Fair Board member needed to be present during these events as an "Open Class Superintendent". The board members agreed.

Amanda Bauer of Take Back Health & Fitness then addressed the board members about moving the 5k Gold Rush Obstacle Run from Gold Rush Days to sometime during Fair Week. The reasons given included that Gold Rush Days are basically on the first weekend of the summer, and many area residents go out of town for the weekend. She believed they would get a better draw, and would be able to bring more people to the Fair, if the event was held during Fair Week, and included the Fairgrounds as the finishing point for the run. The run would start at Legion Park, as had been done in the past, but after runners had cleared through the obstacles at Legion Park, they would then run to the Fair Grounds and finish the race there. They discussed the creation of a "mud pit", and approximately 15' x 15' area of mud at about two feet in depth that runners would have to navigate through prior to completion of the course. After discussion of logistics and other issues, the board members seemed to agree with moving the run to the fair grounds, and actually having it occur on the last Saturday of the fair. Bauer and the board members discussed opening the beer garden early and how the event would tie in with the demolition derby later in the day. The board members decided to let Bauer and her associates move forward with the plans, and they would be solidified at a later meeting.

In Rodeo business, some verbiage was changed for clarification purposes with an initial contract with Cervi Championship Rodeo out of Greeley, CO. Most of the discussion about the PRCA Rodeo event centered around making sure a big screen television would be available for the event. Cervi does not provide the television, but was able to get the service here last year through a third party. The challenge then becomes the reliability of the third party to ensure the big screen television does arrive, and is in proper working order. The board members talked about seeing if they could contract directly with the provider, but were hesitant to jeopardize their relationship with Cervi. There was also talk about finding other providers, which will be explored. It was also noted that a similar big screen television could be purchased outright for about $20,000, and although the television would pay for itself over the course of a few fairs, the budget was not available to make such an expenditure. The television is a big perk for sponsors and advertisers, and the Fair Board would have difficulty securing high-value sponsorships without the service. The board agreed to look into finding other vendors, and to make sure that a big screen television would be at the 2024 Fair.

Next, the discussion turned to the Carnival rides, and the difficulty the Board was having getting a contract finalized for the 2024 Fair. Last year's provider only had a total of eight rides, with four of them being for small children. Previous companies have said they are too far away to make the trip, and the Cheyenne County Fair is not large enough to attract some of the larger companies in the business. According to them, another problem is that many of the smaller companies, that would normally service fairs the size of Cheyenne County's, have gone out of business. It had been mentioned to members of the board that "fairs of your size should buy and own their own equipment", which is not something the budget would allow. Between the lack of companies able to service fairs of our size, and the fact that many are already booked, it will be challenging to have a carnival for the 2024 Fair. However, the board has backup plans in case they are unable to secure a contract with carnival companies.

The members then discussed a preliminary offer for Bull Riding by Ultimate Bull Riding, LLC, but were hesitant to approve as the price offered would necessitate a very high ticket price for the event for fair-goers. Other alternatives were discussed that were more affordable, and the board members will pursue those leads and confer at the next meeting. The board members also discussed the possibility of offering a second night of music, on Thursday night, with perhaps a less-expensive rock band. They believed a lesser-known country artist might cut into attendance for Friday night's concert, which promises to be with a nationally-known country/western artist.

The board members discussed adding additional spaces for campers and expanding the size of the Beer Garden. They also spoke about the Nebraska Fair Convention in Kearney, which takes place at the end of January, and which members would attend. They also approved a motion to move next month's meeting from December 25 to December 18.

Finally, there was a discussion about Performance Based Voting on Members and Election processes. Currently, County Attorney Paul Schaub is reviewing the by-laws for any restrictions on changing board systems and processes, but the board members spoke about instituting performance standards and criteria for board members. The also spoke about the Election Process, and changes to nomination and voting processes. In the past, elections of officers were usually handled at the Nebraska Fair Convention, but that limited the amount of voting members. They decided on two elections windows, one in December and one in June. Also, it was discussed that members would need to write out the benefit that they as individuals bring to the Fair Board, and also why they believed they would bring benefit as an officer.


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