Fair sees a record gate, but needs more funds for bathroom project

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Swift County 4-H youth are a big part of the future of the Swift County Fair.

Swift County’s Fair has been improving every year as it becomes one of the premier county fairs in western Minnesota.

By some accounts, 2017’s fair was the best in years featuring what might have been one of the biggest crowds ever as an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 fans packed into and around the Chuck Brown building to hear country western star Marty Stuart perform.

“The fair had an awesome year as you can see,” Fair Board President Jon Panzer told Swift County commissioners at their meeting Nov. 21. “We had a record at the gate.” Attendance was over 20,500.

General fair revenues were up nearly $15,000 over last year due to an increased gate, carnival, rentals, and camping income. Fair operation expenses were up, too, but it still saw a net profit of  $784. The fair sees plus or minus $3,000 or $4,000 at the end of the fair; that is typically how the fair turns out, Panzer said.

However, when you look at the fair’s financial statement you get a misleading picture of the fair’s finances, Panzer told commissioners. The bottom line shows a negative $88,398 for 2017 fair operations. That figure is misleading because of the ongoing fair bathroom project.

In 2017, the fair took in $37,389 in donations for the new fair bathroom construction project and the new bathrooms in the camping area. Meanwhile, expenses were $126,571. That difference represents an $89,182 loss for 2017.

“That looks bad for the fair,” Panzer said of the net loss. That is why the fair board wanted to show the county board the fair revenues and expenses with the bathroom project pulled out.

Last year, the fair board started a major project that included replacing the old 1940s bathrooms and showers with a larger building in the center of the fairgrounds. The project also included a second bathroom facility to serve the campground.

Expenses for the bathroom project to date are about $274,000 with another $15,000 needed to complete the project, Panzer said. That brings the total project cost to $289,000.  The cost is higher than expected, but much of it was due to issues beyond the fair board’s control.

“The overage is mostly due to things we didn’t see,” Panzer said. Additional grading and block work was necessary to create the fall that was necessary for the sewer lines coming out of the new building. There were also state plumbing codes that drove a substantial amount of the increased expenses, he said.

The fair board is trying to raise $250,000 to pay for the bathrooms raising $206,000 over the past two years, he said. That’s not too bad, Panzer told commissioners....


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Pictured: Swift County 4-H youth are a big part of the future of the Swift County Fair.




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