Fair Board hesitantly OKs usage fees

Commissioners could approve fairgrounds charges next week

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— Fair Board members weren't pleased with the near-final decision about fairgrounds fees, but they grudgingly accepted the plan at their meeting Wednesday.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners asked Fair Manager Jill Delay to seek the Routt County Fair Board's final comments on the planned fees, which commissioners are scheduled to decide on next week. If approved, the fees will apply to building and equipment rental at the Routt County Fairgrounds in Hayden. The Fair Board had sought to exempt educational, supervised and scheduled 4-H activities from the fees.

County commissioners instead plan to charge 4-H members as other Routt County youth nonprofit groups for use of facilities such as the Multipurpose Building or covered arena. Commissioners intend to waive fees for programs such as livestock judging contests, shooting sports and the Town Kids Project. No fees would apply during the fair, and community groups would be allowed to meet at the grounds for free in most situations.

"I'm pretty bummed out about what's going on right here," Fair Board President Jeannie Jo Logan said. "I think it's definitely going to hurt the 4-H program. I think the kids, the 4-H program, shouldn't be nickeled and dimed for the use of that building. : They worked pretty hard, and they had a little bit of ownership to that building. I think doing this is going to take that ownership away."

Members of 4-H and their families raised money for and helped build the Multipurpose Building. Commissioners have said the building was meant to be self-sustaining. They still plan to give the fairgrounds $160,000 this year and allow it to use state lottery funds for capital improvements.

"We need to cover our costs is what we're looking at," County Manager Tom Sullivan told the board.

Commissioners also want to change the memorandum of understanding with the Fair Board.

"Following on the discussion of the fees, the commissioners directed Jill and me to talk to the Fair Board about solely conducting the fair rather than managing the fairgrounds," Sullivan said.

Delay would handle the fairgrounds operations under the new agreement. The Fair Board would have sole use of the grounds for 20 or 25 days before the fair and 10 to 14 days afterward, depending on what commissioners decide. The panel still would advise the commissioners about capital improvements and updates to the Fairgrounds Master Plan.

The Fair Association, a nonprofit group staffed by board members, would act as a third-party group when it plans fairgrounds events.

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