BY KEVIN BONESKE
As a sign of financial support for the Oneida County Fair over the next five years, the county’s Conservation and UW-Extension Education Committee favors putting together a resolution to that effect for consideration by the full County Board next month.
The committee backed the idea Monday while discussing the possibility of committing to hold the fair in Rhinelander at Pioneer Park, where this year’s fair wrapped up Sunday. The city has asked the county for a commitment of at least five years before the city would go ahead with infrastructure improvements that would specifically benefit the fair at the park, such as expanding the electrical system there.
Though the county presently has a lease agreement with the city to use Pioneer Park for the annual fair through 2019, and could renew the lease period for an additional two 10-year periods under the same terms and conditions, in which the county doesn’t make a rent payment to the city, the county could terminate the agreement without penalty in the event it constructed its own fairgrounds.
“(The lease agreement) just says that if the fair decides they want to hold it (at Pioneer Park), they have the right to hold it there with the city,” said county 4-H Youth Development agent Lynn Feldman. “But it doesn’t say that the county is going to promote having a fair through 2019.”
The county has been providing financial support to the Fair Board, which has been in charge of running the fair with board members and a coordinator. According to a report put together and presented Monday by UW-Extension Community, Natural Resources and Economic Development agent Myles Alexander, annual county funding for the fair, at its peak, was $25,000.
Fair coordinator Nancy Gehrig said the county provided $13,000 for the fair in 2016.
“The Fair Board needs to know what’s the level of interest and commitment of the 21 supervisors in Oneida County,” said committee member Robb Jensen, who suggested the idea of forwarding a resolution to the full County Board to financially support the fair.
Committee member Jim Winkler, who is the committee’s representative on the Fair Board, favored a motion to fund the fair with $20,000 a year for the next five years. However, he then agreed, at the urging of other committee members, to hold off with a specific dollar amount until after meeting with the Fair Board at its Aug. 30 meeting when the board will be evaluating this year’s fair.
The committee plans to vote on a resolution to fund the fair over the next five years at its Sept. 12 meeting and forward the resolution for possible final approval next month to the full County Board.