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Echo Press Editorial: How would you improve the fair?

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Echo Press Editorial: How would you improve the fair?
Alexandria Minnesota 225 7th Ave E
P.O. Box 549
56308

How would you like a job that no matter what you do, you displease a good percentage of your customers?

A job that brings little compliments but many complaints?

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A job where you’re called on the carpet for not trying new things but then when you do, you take heat for not sticking with what worked in the past?

That’s a partial job description for the Douglas County Agricultural Association, the non-profit group that’s been organizing and running the Douglas County Fair since 1888.

Of course, there are thousands of people who enjoy coming to the fair year after year – for the rides, the food, the music, the agricultural displays and the reminiscing. But every year, there are also those who aren’t happy with how things went – the ticket prices were too high, the entertainment was lacking, there wasn’t enough variety of food, the rides were rundown, it just wasn’t as fun.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with expressing an opinion or offering suggestions on how to improve the fair. In fact, the agricultural association constantly seeks out and appreciates the feedback.

But more folks should realize that there are tradeoffs and a balancing act that the association, also known as the fair board, has to make for every fair. Take ticket prices, for instance. It would be great if the fair was free for everyone but without that revenue, the board wouldn’t be able to pay for needed updates and improvements. This year, for example, the fair board invested nearly $50,000 to refurbish the grandstand. It’s also worth pointing out that the fair isn’t exactly a “county” fair. The agricultural association is a separate, non-profit entity that, aside from an annual $4,000 donation from Douglas County, does not rely on tax dollars. When it sets ticket prices, the board has to walk the fine line of making the prices affordable yet still have enough revenue coming in to keep the fair running smoothly.

The board tried some new things this year – three high school rodeo events and dirt bike/ATV supercross races replaced the stock car races and tractor pull events. The board added the events in response to those who complained that there wasn’t anything new at the fair. While the turnout could have been higher, they weren’t complete flops considering this was their first year. The fair board points out that it may take time for those events to develop a following.

The newspaper has offered a suggestion or two over the years on how to improve the fair. One is to offer a secured beer garden. It has the potential to be a significant revenue maker for the fair while offering adults the chance to sip on a cold beer or two with their friends.

We urge local residents to offer their ideas and suggestions about how to improve the fair in a positive, constructive way. Visit the fair board’s website, www.dcmnfair.com, for more information and you can send feedback to info@dcmnfair.com.

Better yet, you can get more involved by joining the agricultural association. The association meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Viking Sportsmen Building on the northeast corner of the fairgrounds. (No meetings are scheduled for October or December.) Membership in the association is open to all residents of Douglas County and dues are just are $1 per year.

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