Buena Vista County leaders continue to wrestle with issues surrounding the cash-strapped county fair program.
Recently, Buena Vista County Fair Board spokesperson Vicki Roberts approached Supervisors, noting that buildings need repairs, and that a lack of funding could cut into what the fair can offer in 2007. The board usually splits two funding payments during the year, but agreed to give the full $20,000 up front this year.
Rhonda Christensen of ISU Extension, which is deeply involved in 4-H fair programs, approached the supervisors to inform them of the role of 4-H and the Extension office. Supervisors also have agreed to hold their check until an audit is performed.
On Thursday November 2, a stockholders meeting of the County Fair Board was held. Finance statements were handed out to the stockholders, and county supervisors also received the fair board's finance statements. Some stockholders were upset and felt that it might be time for new management.
They voted Randy Robins as president, Jim Peterson as Vice President and Nancy Robins for Treasurer. The board used what funds it had left to pay some of the bills.
Christensen had told the Board of Supervisors about the role of 4-H and Extension in the Fair and the county.
"When working with youth one of the things we do is to start recruiting members for 4-H and to keep them and their families informed about dates for meetings and other information they need," Christensen said. "One of the other things that we do is recruit the judges and if we don't secure them soon, the farther we have to go to get them."
Christensen also pointed out that 4-H competition at the fair has been growing as well.
"All areas have been growing, this year we had some cattle in a sheep barn because the cattle barn was so full. The swine contest was great, sheep grew and even horse numbers grew," Christensen said. "Unfortunately not everyone could stay because there was no room at the inn."
As part of the 4-H contest there is a premium that is set so that winners of the different contests will be awarded cash. This helps children in areas where auctions no longer exist.
There have been some questions raised because the funds that were supposed to be given to the children have not shown up.
"We have families and organizations calling wondering were the money is that was promised to the kids," Christensen said. "It used to be that the checks would be made out to the kids from the fair board. But we wanted to make this educational so it was set up that one check would go to each 4-H organization and the treasurer there would get experience for writing checks out to the kids. One club was able to do it from their treasury but they are waiting to be reimbursed for the account."
"It has been suggested that we have an audit to see where the funds have gone so maybe we should consider that," Gustafson said. "We have not raised what we gave to the fair."
The board of supervisors did not make any motions but will look into ways to track where funds go.
At the Fair board stockholders meeting , it was pointed out by the members of the executive board that there have been years that the rewards for the children haven't been paid until after January.
Other stockholders asked about why funds are low and questioned about the fund raisers.
"Some of you don't realize that entertainment that we bring costs $5,000 at least per act and when you have four acts and only make about $200 back per act it is hard to recover it from them," former board president Scott Schwaller said.
"We had to look at the business side of things and we had to eliminate the carnival," Roberts said in response to people asking why finances were in the shape they were.
The fair board has not paid anything towards principal on loans in the past two years but has been able to cover the interest. The board also highlighted the need to still repair buildings on the grounds as well aas the grandstand of the track.
After the stockholders meeting, the first business meeting of the year was held. Due to limited time any new election plans could not be fully explored at the current meeting.
The board agreed to use the $3,000 left in the budget to pay off some of the accumulated debt to local businesses, insurance and bank. The 4-H Equestrian team has also donated to help pay off a difference leftover for a bill as well.
The Fair Board will be attending a convention in Des Moines to learn different ways to help the county fair. There will also be plans for holding a local meeting before the convention, held on December 15-17.
The fair board receives over $9,000 for fair ground improvements. The money can not go to paying off debt, officials said.