Fair board asked to consider big picture

Meeting of the city, county and fair board will be the next step


by Paul Rignell

Contributing Writer

The next annual Sherburne County Fair is not on the calendar for another eight months, to open July 17, 2014, although planning for the fair is important in the minds of the Fair Board members and other supporters year-round.

Some of the Fair Board members were present at the Sherburne County Government Center Nov. 6 for a monthly workshop of the elected Board of Commissioners.

Sherburne County Fair action
Sherburne County Fair action

Fair Board member Irene Kostreba announced plans for applying to the state Department of Agriculture by a February 2014 deadline for a $10,700 grant that would fund construction of a new building on the fairgrounds, at Business Center Drive and Joplin Street Northwest in Elk River, envisioning a new home for information on Sherburne County history to be open only during the four-day fair. A legislative action in 2011 authorized the Department of Agriculture to offer “equal share” grants for each of the 87 counties to support their fairs with funds created after voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in November 2008.

But the Sherburne County commissioners at their workshop noted there are larger issues to be considered for the fair, namely whether it would be in the interest of the county and other parties for the Fair Board to renew an extended lease on the current grounds. A review of the fairgrounds lease was on the workshop agenda, while property for a potential new home for the fair – designated by a private family land trust – remains open near the permanent Sherburne History Center in Becker.

Many in the County Board chambers Nov. 6 agreed they were missing a voice from the city of Elk River regarding its interest in continuing to host the county fair.

County Administrator Steve Taylor, new to his office in the first week, advised that because the county, the Fair Board and the city of Elk River comprise a “three-legged stool” with interest in the fair’s future at the current site, each should be represented in further discussions.

Commissioner Bruce Anderson, representing most of Elk River in his district, said he believes the city supports the fair and he pledged to arrange a meeting with city officials on the matter by late November.