For over a year and a half, I have been working with fairgrounds user group representatives and the Lincoln County Public Property Committee on planning ways to better market the grounds with the purpose of attracting more events. Throughout that time, the county worked to make improvements to the grounds, the first step many of the user group representatives agreed needed to be done in order to effectively market the facility.
With the razing of the grandstand, the emphasis of the user group meetings has changed to an extent. While there was much conversation in earlier meetings about developing a fairgrounds management organization made up of volunteers, that discussion has become even more vital as the county and the community considers options for what type of structure should replace the grandstand. Understandably, no one wants to pay for a new building unless there is some way to market it and the surrounding grounds. Unless something changes within county government, it does not currently have the means to conduct such a marketing effort. That is why there is interest in developing a volunteer group to carry out that function and to manage the facility day to day.
Recently, a subcommittee of the fairgrounds user group developed a draft fairgrounds management organization outline. The document will be reviewed by the user group during its next meeting on September 10 (6:30 p.m., Lincoln County Service Center). If approved by the user group, it will go on to be reviewed by the county's Public Property Committee on September 12. That committee may wish to place the item on the September 18 County Board agenda. Last November, a resolution was narrowly defeated and laid over on the County Board floor asking the supervisors to sanction the concept of a non-government fairgrounds management organization. At that time, many supervisors asked for more information. The document the user group subcommittee worked on is an attempt to do just that.
Meanwhile, the user group is now discussing the type of structure it feels would be most useful on the grounds. Members have identified everything from how they want it to look to how many people it should seat to approximately where on the grounds the structure should be built. A local company is interested in donating a significant portion of the cost for this structure and is currently working to develop draft building concept drawings. The hope is that these drawings can also be presented to the County Board for its review as soon as feasible, perhaps even during the September 18 meeting.
The one primary factor unifying the user group representatives and county government is that these parties want to see the fairgrounds become more viable. Recent events have created opportunities for fairgrounds improvements that have not been seen for over 20 years if at all. This has created more thoughtful conversations about the fairgrounds that will likely continue for months to come. Whatever the outcome of those conversations, county residents should feel assured that they will be thoughtful, ones where the parties involved will seek to have the good of the entire county always in mind.