Profitable year for fairgrounds
|A large crowd assembled at Country Side Banquet Center Friday for the Eastern Michigan Fair Boardís annual appreciation dinner. The event was an opportunity for the Fair Board to acknowledge the local business sponsors and volunteers who contribute to the success of the Eastern Michigan Fair. photo by Tom Wearing.|
November 07, 2007IMLAY CITY — Don't fix it if it ain't broke.
That bit of sage advice may be what Eastern Michigan Fair Board members had in mind when they elected officers last Wednesday.
Rather than switch gears midstream, the organization's existing officers and board members were re-elected.
Returning to serve a one-year term as Fair Board president was Dave Bates, while Bill Seidell, Ray Swain and Ian Kempf were re-elected to three-year terms. Board members Rodney Warner (vice president), Al Parsch (treasurer), Dennis Root, Dennis Day and Jeff Schussler were not up for re-election.
Kempf said progress at the venerable old fairgrounds on M-53 (Van Dyke) has been ongoing, with a number of projects being completed in 2007 and others slated to begin next year. He said the Fair Board spent nearly $60,000 on improvements during the current fiscal year.
"We were able to pave all the animal areas and the remainder of the walking paths and roads inside the fairgrounds," said Kempf. "That has been a major improvement—especially for the elderly and for people in wheelchairs or pushing strollers. Once you're inside, there is virtually smooth access throughout the fairgrounds."
Kempf noted that the 2007 Eastern Michigan Fair was "very successful," as an estimated 35,000 paid customers passed through the turnstiles during the five-day event.
"The fair was a big financial success," said Kempf, now in his tenth year as fair manager. "Our profits were about $100,000, most of which goes right back into improvements.
"If you include all the exhibitors, merchants and vendors," he continued, "we must have had about 40,000-45,000 people in attendance throughout the week."
The picture is not entirely rosy, though. Kempf is concerned about possible cuts in funding from the State of Michigan. He said the Eastern Michigan Fair typically receives about $25,000 annually in premiums and money for improvements from the state. The Fair has an annual budget of about $500,000.
Even with less money from the state, Kempf believes the fair is positioned for future growth.
"With all the new asphalt we have the ability to expand and grow," said Kempf, adding that the grounds is being used more frequently by outside exhibitors.
"We think the fairgrounds is a great asset for the community," he said, "and it brings more business into the area. We feel like we've put together a facility that the whole community can be proud of."
On Friday, Fair Board members hosted an Appreciation Dinner at Country Side Banquet Center, acknowledging individuals and businesses that served as sponsors for the 2007 Eastern Michigan Fair.
More than 100 people attended the event, which included dinnner, refreshments and the introduction of sponsors.