Fair looks to future with new carnival provider
Wednesday, December 11, 2013 9:38 AM
The 2014 Lincoln County Fair will run concurrently with the Wisconsin Valley Fair in Wausau, after dates have been set with a new carnival provider. The fair is scheduled for July 30-Aug. 3, 2014.
The change in dates was prompted by the fair’s need to find a new provider for the rides and midway attractions. Issues with the previous provider, who had been contracted in 2012 and 2013, left the Fair Association looking elsewhere.
“We had some problems with the carnival last year and decided not to bring them back,” said Fair Association President Dale Christiansen said. “We were forced to make a change.”
For the next three years, the Fair Association has contracted with Mr. Ed’s Magical Midways of North Freedom, WI. Mr. Ed’s specializes in fairs the size of Lincoln County’s and comes highly recommended by other fair associations, Christiansen said.
“For a fair our size, they’ll be a good carnival,” he said.
Unfortunately, July 30-Aug. 3 were the only dates available on Mr. Ed’s 2014 calendar. Those dates coincide with the larger fair in Wausau, however.
“Because of their prior obligations, that was the only week they had open next year,” Christiansen said. “We’re going to be running head-to-head with Wausau, and that’s a concern of ours. We share a lot of the same vendors and they’re going to have to pick and choose where they’re going to go.”
For the following two years, however, Mr. Ed’s has agreed to fair dates of July 22-26 in 2015, and July 20-24 in 2016, which will not pose a conflict with the Wisconsin Valley Fair dates and moves the Lincoln County Fair back to its traditional dates at the end of July.
“It’s only one year and we’ll get through it,” Christiansen said. “In the long run I think this is going to be a good, reliable carnival company. I’ve talked to a lot of fairs that are very happy with them.”
Unless Lincoln County can construct a new seating structure at the fairgrounds by July, this will be the fair’s third year without a grandstand. The Fair Association rented bleachers in 2012, but didn’t recoup their costs. They didn’t rent bleachers last year and the fair also lost money.
“Last year’s fair was down over 15 percent,” Christiansen said. “I think a lot of it was not having the demo derby or other grandstand attractions.”
The Fair Association is not planning to have seating available this year, either, unless they can find an extremely good deal on bleacher rental, Christiansen said.
“Without a grandstand, it’s going to be very difficult this year,” he said. “We’re resolving ourselves that we can’t compete with Wausau on the nighttime entertainment.”
The Wisconsin Valley Fair typically brings in national recording acts for its grandstand shows. But, Lincoln County’s carnival is more economical and typically draws people from the Wausau area for daytime activities.
“We’re hoping it’s going to be a wash in our bottom line,” Christiansen said.
Mr. Ed’s will work with the Fair Association on marketing the carnival. The Fair Association is also looking at creative ideas to get the community more involved in next year’s fair.
“We’re thinking outside the box,” he said. “We have to cut our budget with proceeds coming down. We’re looking at making it more of a local community festival.”
The Fair Association is really looking forward to 2015, with a new seating structure and their preferred dates.
“We’re looking forward to stabilizing the whole thing and getting back to running a fair,” Christiansen said. “It has really been up in the air the past couple years with all the turmoil of not knowing.”