Keeping fair there for at least five years sought before infrastructure improvements made
BY KEVIN BONESKE
The possibility of making infrastructure improvements at Rhinelander’s Pioneer Park, where the annual Oneida County Fair is currently being held, wouldn’t depend upon the county committing money to stay there.
That was the message conveyed at Monday’s city Parks, Buildings and Grounds Committee meeting. Committee chairperson Sherrie Belliveau said that assurance involves having the fair stay there for at least the next five years.
“Before we put any infrastructure out there to accommodate the fair, we don’t want to do that and have the fair say next year, ‘We’re moving to Minocqua or somewhere else,’” Belliveau said. “That’s exactly what we’re looking for – no money.”
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.
City officials appeared in May before the county’s Conservation and UW-Extension Education Committee asking for the five-year commitment for the fair to stay at Pioneer Park before the city would make improvements, such as an expansion of the electrical service that would benefit the fair.
“We just want that kind of commitment,” Belliveau said. “We’d pass it on to our city attorney and write up an agreement. And everybody signs it and we’re happy for five years.”
County fair coordinator Nancy Gehrig said the fair is planning to return to Pioneer Park in 2017, while county Conservation and UW-Extension Education Committee member Mitchell Ives, who was also present for Monday’s city Parks Committee meeting, noted there are no plans for the fair to move.
“The money that was given in the past was a certain amount for the fair to become viable by itself,” Ives said.
For 2017, the county Conservation and UW-Extension Education Committee is seeking full County Board approval to increase the amount of funding for the fair from the $13,507 budgeted for this year to $21,130, which would cover the salaries of the fair coordinator as well as the secretary and treasurer.
However, because of year-to-year budgeting at the county level, those committee members also decided Sept. 12 to table a resolution that called for increasing the funding to $21,130 in each of the next five years.