Monday, February 26, 2024

BOCC hears fair board update

Staff Writer | December 7, 2023 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — It’s been a bumpy road, but Bonner County Fair Board member Ben Wood told commissioners that things are finally looking up for the fair board at Tuesday morning’s meeting.

Almost everyone in the audience clapped when Wood announced that the fair board’s finances had finally been submitted to the newspaper, as is required annually by law.

“I’m not going to lie, it’s been a rough road,” he said. “The fair board has still got a long, bumpy road to go. But we’re going.”

Wood said he wanted to talk a bit about the main points of the finance report to alleviate potential questions county residents might have when reading the paper. The fair board’s finances are split into three main parts, he said — fair and non-fair items, rodeo items, and royalty items.

The royalty portion of the finances involves the rodeo queen traveling to nearby events and functions to represent the Sandpoint Fair and Rodeo. This program, Wood said, has been very beneficial to showcase the events at the fair and promote the city in general.

Additionally, Wood mentioned the large amount of donations the fair board received this year.

“There were close to $130,000 worth of donations and sponsorships from our community,” he said. “That is huge. I can’t give a big enough shout out to you guys. Without that, the fair could not operate.”

Currently, the fair board is working on the facilities plan — identifying its strengths and weaknesses as well as figuring out exactly what they can do with the facility. The board is also working on the winter events it will be hosting for the rest of the season. Talk of the upcoming fair and rodeo is also beginning, he said, as early planning helps ensure great events.

“We’re dealing with some bad publicity … but things are working out,” he said. “It’s not that we’re stuck in a rut. Like I said, the road’s bumpy, but we’re moving ahead.”

Just like Bonner County and the city of Sandpoint, Wood said the fair also has growing pains, and as the area’s population grows, so does the number of events held at the fairgrounds. That puts strain on the facilities and the board is working to identify the areas that need the most attention. Wood said the board is being cautious as they talk about growth and work to identify what the fairgrounds — and the events held there — will look like years down the road.

However, Wood said he’s confident in the fair board’s path moving forward as they begin to work coherently with county officials.

“The BOCC has put together a fantastic fair board,” he said. “I think our fair board is very well rounded. We pull in some really good opinions from different angles … We’re not perfect, but we’re definitely doing some good things. We’re not trying to withhold any information. It’s just a sensitive time period.”

Bonner County Clerk Mike Rosedale said he is looking forward to a cohesive partnership with the fair board.

“Mr. Wood and Jody [Russell] — we’ve been working together,” he said. “We have a bright future. Somebody has a vested interest in trying to stick a thorn between us. My office doesn’t want that; I don’t think your office wants that. I think we want to work great together. I don’t know why stuff is being brought up all the time, but we very much want to work with you. There is no angst there at all.”

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