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Board debriefed on Sanders County Fair

by CHUCK BANDEL
Valley Press | September 21, 2022 12:00 AM

It was a fun fair to all and “un-fare” to a few.

That was one of the pun-laced takeaways from the annual meeting of the Sanders County Fair Board three days after the completion of the 2022 event.

“I think it all went well,” said board president Randy Wood, who is also the mayor of Hot Springs. “There were some things we will look at, mostly in the way of improvements, but overall it was a good fair”.

Only two local residents showed up at the meeting, held in the Fairgrounds Meeting Hall this past Wednesday. Both spoke briefly of things they would like to see change, then left immediately after speaking.

One elderly gentleman said he did not understand why fair-goers who merely want to sample and purchase some of the traditional “fare” from the events’ many food vendors so they could take it home and eat it were still asked to pay to park.

“I think a lot of people just want to run in and get something to take home to eat,” he said. “I don’t understand why we should have to pay anything for doing that. A lot of people like me really like the food they have but don’t want to stay for the fair itself”.

The other person who spoke to the Board, voiced concern over the lack of parking and the expense involved.

Wood assured both speakers the Board would consider their concerns and see if anything can be done to improve the situation.

“We will check into it and other things we saw that we could do to make for a better fair-going experience,” Woods said.

Board members agreed that attendance at this year’s fair was about the same, if maybe not just a bit smaller, than average years in the past. Wood estimated unofficially he thought up to 50,000 people had attended the four-day event. Others noted that typically well-attended events like the rodeo and demolition derby seemed to have as many viewers in the grandstands as always.

No official attendance records are generally kept for the fair, they said.

Wood and other board members said they also heard concerns during the fair about the cost of rides and food, the amount of time it took to buy tickets for the rides, and other, mostly economic matters.

Board members also addressed the results of a survey taken during the event by fair personnel on a wide range of issues. On a scale of one to five, with one being “not at all satisfied” and five being “extremely” satisfied, the overall average for the 29 places or events being rated was 3.0, or “neutral”.

Barn areas and animal events continued to generate the most satisfaction according to the survey, with the horse, beef and poultry/rabbit barns earning a 3.8 rating. Meanwhile, carnival rides drew the lowest satisfaction rating, coming in at 1.8, just below “not very satisfied”. The next two lowest rated items in the survey were non-profit/political booths and the Beer Garden, both of which rated 2.9 in the minds of fair visitors.

Wood said future plans may involve expanding the vendor areas (food vendors rated 3.3) and doing some cosmetic and updating work in several areas around the grounds. There was also talk about adding one or two more security personnel to help patrol the periphery of the event.

“It looks like things went pretty well,” Wood said. “We always look at improving things, especially for family-related portions of the fair and will do so again this year. The biggest complaint overall was about ticket prices”.

Funds raised by the fair are all used for maintenance, operational expenses and improvement projects, Wood added.

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