Routt County commissioners refocus fair board

New entity forming to explore ways to expand use of fair facilities on a year-round basis

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The Routt County Board of Commissioners, the County Fair Advisory Board and a group of citizen advocates have mutually agreed to restructure their relationship.

Going forward, the fair board won’t take up proposals from citizens groups eager to raise funds to augment facilities at the Routt County Fairgrounds in Hayden. Instead, a new entity is forming to explore ways to expand the use of fair facilities on a year-round basis.

“It won’t affect the way the fair is put on, the program or the activities,” Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said Tuesday.

Commission Chairman Doug Monger said county government wants to limit itself to supporting the traditional purpose of the fairgrounds.

“What we’re really showcasing down there is our youth and the culmination of a year’s worth of work,” he said, citing 4-H animals as an example.

Hayden resident Medora Fralick said a group of interested citizens will form a new organization with the hope of raising funds independently of the fair board and the county. Their intent is to enhance the existing facilities to attract more equestrian and agriculture-related events to the fairgrounds. She and another Hayden woman, Wendy Lind, along with Leellen Koroulis, of Clark, are working on the organizational structure of their group. It’s likely to be nonprofit in order to extend tax advantages to donors, Fralick said.

“The facility is phenomenal,” Fralick said about the fairgrounds. “Because the county is on a really tight budget, we hope to raise funds” to improve it.

The fairgrounds hosted the rookie day event for the National Reining Horse Association in 2009, and Fralick’s group hopes to expand upon that success with the same event in May 2010.

Ultimately, the group would like to see more horse stalls added to the fairgrounds and capabilities such as dust suppression. Growing the year-round events at the fairgrounds could serve as a form of economic development for Hayden, Fralick added.

County Manager Tom Sull­ivan confirmed Thursday that the members of the Fair Advisory Board will remain in their places. Although they were extended an invitation to leave the board and work with the new group, none have done so, Fralick said.

The annual 12-month bud­get for the fairgrounds is about $160,000, Sullivan said. Although the commissioners have for a period of years expressed an interest in seeing the fair become financially autonomous, Sullivan confirmed they are not attaching urgency to that goal this year.

In the future, the commissioners-appointed Fair Advisory Board will function the way other county advisory boards like the Purchase of Development Rights Committee does, making recommendations to the commissioners.

“The nonprofit will remain in place, just not under the county’s realm,” Monger said. “It’s there with the ability to do the things it wants to do while separating what we believe the county’s role is.”

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