NCW Fair board, staff are working to build a strong fair for 2018 and beyond

By Karen Larsen
Empire Press Correspondent

Interim North Central Washington Fair Manager Ed Daling, fair secretary Ashley Freeman and fair board members are continuing their efforts to make the fair as successful as it can be.

At the regular Dec. 14 fair board meeting, the board heard from Daling and board President Clint Wall about their attendance at the Washington State Fairs Association convention in Vancouver Oct. 18-20 and the Rocky Mountain Association of Fairs convention in Colorado Springs Nov. 8-11.

At the Colorado Springs convention, Daling and Wall talked with the owner of a carnival company in California who is interested in trying to move his operations to other states. The challenge, according to the company’s owner, is that the company needs to earn at least $50,000 in gross proceeds from each fair in order to make a profit. This is significantly more than the NCW Fair carnival has been able to bring in.

Daling felt that even if the fair had to come up with some of the money to cover what the company needs, it would be worth it to be able to bring a carnival on board. Daling said the conversation with this owner and other carnival companies needs to continue, but he does not think that a solution will be worked out before next year’s fair. Daling said that it will be necessary to continue to explore alternate attractions for 2018 and perhaps for the following year.

Some of the entertainers who showcased at the conventions were spectacular, according to Daling, but they booked quickly after their presentations. He said it is necessary to have a clear idea of what is wanted and how much money is available to spend before attending the conventions.

Daling and Wall covered almost all of their own expenses to attend the convention in Colorado Springs. Board members discussed the merits of using Friends of the Fair funds in the future to cover the costs for the fair manager and a board member to attend the convention.

The board also discussed the possibility of obtaining local corporate sponsors for entertainers and events that would be good at drawing people to the fair, but that are more costly than the fair budget would allow.

Freeman recently posted a request on the fair’s Facebook page for suggestions to improve the fair. Fair officials received a large number of responses and the board is looking into these and will try to find ways to implement the ones that seem workable and beneficial.

Fair consultant and promoter Sunny Sanders is being hired to work with employees and the board members on the overall operations of the fair, especially with regard to increasing sponsorship.

The board voted to increase the facility rental fee from $1,600 to $1,750. Members are also looking for more ways to promote facility rental. They will have a booth at the Bridal Première Jan. 6 in Wenatchee. They also will advertise in The Wenatchee World and place fliers at bridal stores and with florists in the area.

Trees and ground cover purchased through a grant from the Waterville Community Fund have been planted next to the community hall and barns.

The board sent out notes of appreciation to Jeff DeJarnett and Ann Whitehall. DeJarnett, who was the FFA representative on the board, recently retired from his position. The new FFA representative is Jamey Jo Steele. There are two vacant positions on the board.

Whitehall volunteered for many hours this year to process premium and livestock sale checks, which have now been sent out.

Daling reported that he has spent $400 on lumber to support the roof of the rabbit and poultry barn if there should be significant snow. He said that he will wait to begin work on it until there is enough snow to warrant it. In case there is not a heavy snow this year, the lumber can be used elsewhere on the fairgrounds.

The fair manager position remains open. Details can be found on the county website. Daling’s contract as interim manager runs through Dec. 31. Wall said that it has not yet been determined with Daling if his contract will be extended.

It was also reported that the Douglas County commissioners approved the 2018 fair budget.

The next fair board meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Jan. 11.