Public property committee to look at future of fairgrounds

With another edition of the Lincoln County 4-H Fair in the books, County Board Public Property Committee chairman Jim Alber told his fellow supervisors at last Tuesday’s meeting in Tomahawk that his group was studying ways to utilize the fairgrounds more year-round.

As part of their study, he said possible ways of rebuilding the grandstand would also be examined.

“We’ve been told that because of the lack of seating we will never be able to draw top acts to the fair,” Alber said.

Frank Saal said that a study of the fairgrounds done several years ago showed that the present fairgrounds were too small for expanding the grandstand any further.

“There would be a lack of space for parking and other uses if the grandstand were to be enlarged,” Saal said.

Alber said the committee would look at possible alternative locations for the fairground, possibly closer to Highway 51.

“Right now we just aren’t getting the use from the facility that we should,” he said. “We need to either improve the fairgrounds or eliminate the white elephant.”

Groups such as the Fair Board, Rodeo and civic groups lease the fairgrounds from the county. They then set their own rules as to which vendors and attractions are allowed to set up during their events.

Alber has previously said that more consistency on vendors needed to be put into place in light of the recent disagreement between the Fair Board and Grecian Delight owner Sam Darduk. The Fair Board has denied Darduk a lease to put his Gyro stand on the midway the last two fairs over what it says is his refusal to abide by rules all vendors must follow.

Darduk secured permission from the Wisconsin National Guard this year to place his stand on the lawn of the armory opposite the grandstand. The Fair Board retaliated by erecting a steel cattle fence around his stand on Wednesday evening. The Public Property Committee met the next morning in emergency session and voted to order the Fair Board to remove the fence, which it did.

Alber said such disagreements leave the county open to inclusion in a discrimination lawsuit if Darduk decides to file one.

“Our main concern is making sure the county’s interests are protected,” Alber said after Tuesday’s meeting.

Seeking ways to have the two sides resolve their disagreement without legal action has preoccupied the committee for over a year now.

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