In a split vote, the Hill County fair board Tuesday approved the professional rodeo moving into the Saturday slot at this year’s Great Northern Fair, and keeping the Jaycees Demolition Derby in its current Sunday slot.
Fairgrounds manager Tim Solomon said the carnival also is set, with final details to be written into the contract with Brown’s Amusement to come to the fair in July.
In the board’s January meeting, truck pull organizer Bill Mangold told the board that ticket sales did not justify continuing that event, which had held Saturday performances for a dozen years.
Both the local committee that puts on the professional National Rodeo Association rodeo at the fair and the Jaycees told the board in January they would like to move to the Saturday slot.
In its monthly meeting Tuesday, board members Chad Murnin, Mike Arnold and Alma Seidel voted for the rodeo getting the Saturday slot.
Board members Andy Owens and Missy Boucher voted for giving the Saturday slot to the Jaycees.
Chelby Gooch, a vice president of the Havre Jaycees, said before the vote that the service organization would like the Saturday slot, but did not want to get into a competition over the issue.
“We’ll stick with our Sunday … ,” she said. “We just want to know dates so we can plan what we’re going to do. I mean, this is ridiculous, arguing over a date.”
Earlier in the meeting, Clint Solomon of the committee that puts on the rodeo said his group needed to know the date, in part, to continue looking at bringing a band to the fair to perform after the shows.
Clint Solomon said the intent of having the concert is to raise money to put back into ipmroving the fairgrounds, adding that it seems like nothing is being done to improve them now.
Brurud said the Utah band, II Amendment, is an excellent performer and has done shows at the Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota and other high-profile venues. Rodeo committee members have listened to their music online, she said.
“Ultimately, what we would really like to do is get people maybe even from … Lethbridge, from Medicine Hat, they’re like, ‘Hey, we can go down for a whole weekend, get a concert, rodeo, stay overnight, you know, enjoy the carnival, rodeo, concert again that evening,” Brurud said. “It could be a really good draw for … all of the different people that run concessions and everything, I think.”
Rodeo committee members said for the concert idea to work, it would need to be done Friday and Saturday to be able to pay for itself and and provide funding for fairground improvements. Solomon said that if the shows couldn’t run Friday and Saturday, his committee would not pursue the idea.
Brurud said the intent is simply to help the community and the fairgrounds.
“This is our volunteer hours, a significant amount of volunteer hours, to bring in a concert purely for people’s entertainment … ,” she said. “That’s just what we wanted to bring to you. We’re not here to say, ‘You guys do a concert because we think there should be one with the fair.’ We’re offering to do that, so we just need a decision for dates so we know whether we move forward with that or we don’t.”
During the discussion of which group would get the Saturday slot, rodeo committee member Casey Solomon suggested that perhaps the derby could run Saturday and the concert could run after the second night of the rodeo Friday and after the derby Saturday.
That would be difficult, Jaycees at the meeting said. While the idea sounds good, especially with the group’s goal of increasing the number of cars at the derby, they can’t guarantee the derby would be done in time for the concert.
The board also directed Tim Solomon to investigate options to fill the slot opened Thursday, including the possibility of moving the children’s rodeo there from its current Wednesday slot, and other possibilities.