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December 10, 2018

11/23/2018 9:51:00 AM
Moving Iowa County fair dates considered for discussion

By Kasi Greenwood
For over the last 150 years, Iowa County Fair has been held during Labor Day Weekend. The first day of fair has started on Thursday, with the event concluding on Labor Day Monday.
There has been discussion of keeping the fair dates as they stand, or moving the fair date from what it has been.
A public forum meeting was held Thursday November 15 at the Health and Human Services building in Dodgeville.
Members of the Fair Board, Iowa County Extension Staff, and many Iowa County residents attended this meeting.
Barry Hottmann, Community Development Educator for Iowa County UW-Extension, informed all in attendance of the guidelines to lead the discussion..
"No decisions are being made tonight, it's just a discussion," Hottmann said.
Discussion behind Iowa County dates was broken down by questions asking the public about the fair- pertaining to values, challenges, and opportunities.
Examples behind values of the County Fair included seeing kids grow with their projects, seeing people they may not see except once per year, homegrown education for children, volunteerism, economic impact for the county, bringing people of all ages to the fair, and more.
"Many of you have gone to the fair for many years, and have been a part of this," Hottmann said to the group. "There's a value associated with it, in your hearts and your minds."
Hottmann said that he spoke with his predecessor Paul Ohlrogge earlier that day, and Ohlrogge informed him that consideration of moving the Iowa County Fair dates goes back as far as 1995.
"It's not something new, and it's not something old," Hottmann said. "It's just something worth having a discussion about."
Fair committee member Tim Lindholm informed the group that he, Muffy Swingen, and Jackie McCarville have formed a fair committee to present information discussed at Thursday's meeting back to the Fair Board.
"We are not for it, and we're also not against it," Lindholm said. "The committee is going back to the board to vote on it."
Swingen presented the group with survey results handed out in the exhibit building during the fair. There were 416 people who took the survey. In that survey:
-259 people voted to change the current fair dates (From this figure: 133 people voted to keep fair dates in August, not on Labor Day weekend; 105 people voted to have fair in July; 21 people voted to have fair in June.
-157 people voted to keep fair dates on Labor Day weekend (From this figure: 116 voted to keep the fair dates as they currently are -Thursday to Monday-and 41 people voted to keep it on Labor Day weekend, and end on Sunday (Wednesday starting date).
McCarville said there was a fair committee meeting over a month ago, with other fair superintendents in attendance. At this meeting, three options were considered:
-Keep fair dates on Labor Day weekend.
-Move fair dates up one week from current ones.
-Move fair dates to the last week in July (the only other county fair occuring on this date would be Columbia County).
The group then discussed challenges with moving the fair dates. Reasons included, but not limited to, were the tradition of the county fair being on Labor Day weekend, adjustment of breeding programs for livestock exhibitors, organizing entertainment, potential conflicting fair days with other counties, difficulty in booking judges (which was pointed out as a conflict regardless of fair dates), and availability of guests during the holiday weekend.
It was pointed out that an advantage of keeping the current dates as is, is that the State Fair is a couple weeks before County Fair, which gives exhibitors another chance to show, should they not perform as well at State Fair.
Scheduling conflicts were also a challenge in terms of keeping the current fair dates. Taste of Madison takes place during Labor Day weekend, which has been said to pull away potential fair-goers.
School is also a factor, given that classes are already in session for area students. Students attending college have had to give up the last year or two of showing with dates being as they've been. It was also seen as an opportunity to consider moving fair dates to allow college students more time for travelling back to school.
In relation to school, individuals stated the opportunity of moving dates to the last week of July, and that it may give students time to enjoy summer before preparing for the new term.
Athletics has also been a concern, as show days for dairy, swine and other exhibits have been on the same day as sports events; forcing kids to make a choice between the showring or the sport event.
If any changes are made, it won't take effect until 2020.
"There are a lot of reasons to move it, and there are alot of reasons to keep it where it is," Lindholm said.
The forum was an opportunity for individuals to come together and be invested what's best for the the County Fair.
"I think that's a win no matter what happens with this forum, even if we leave the fair the same, it's been really excited to see so many people passionate about the fair," Laura Daniels said.
"It's just meant to be a discussion," Hottmann concluded. "The bottom line is to share this information."
The fair date discussion is set to continue at the Fair Board meeting on Wednesday November 28, 7 p.m. at the Mineral Point Rescue Squad.
The public is invited to attend this meeting. Parking will take place in the rear part of the building.

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