If nothing else, you can say the Allen County Fair Board is consistent.
Don’t take that as a compliment though.
For the second time in five years, the board has:
• Voted not to renew the contract of its fair manager.
• Never offered an explanation of why it was going to make a change, other than to say they wanted to go in a different direction.
• Never publicly explained what “direction” they wanted the fair to go.
• Never talked about being open to new ideas.
This time Bob Fricke was handed the walking papers. The vote not to renew his contract came in May, a critical time for the fair this year, given that no one knew its immediate future because of the coronavirus. Fortunately, Fricke agreed to stay on until his contract runs out in November.
The economic impact the fairgrounds brings to Allen County is too important for the board’s decision-making not to be made public. We would love to hear its president, Dan Kimmet, share not only the long-range vision of the fair but also for the fairgrounds itself.
Around 200,000 people visit the Allen County Fair each year. That translates into a lot of food being purchased from restaurants and grocery stores, hotel rooms being booked and gasoline and other supplies being sold.
But that’s just part of the economic impact the fairgrounds brings to Allen County.
The location of the fairgrounds is a booking agent’s dream. Interstate 75 provides easy access for people traveling from the north or south. The same holds true for east and west visitors with U.S. 33 and U.S. 30.
Almost every weekend from early spring to late fall, some type of event is being held at the fairgrounds. There’s a motorcycle race, monster truck competition, concerts, a home show, car shows and gun collector shows. Even a professional bull-riding event has been held there.
Yet, could more be done? The fairgrounds is a good facility, but it could be even better. And the fair itself is a good fair, but it could be a great fair.
The previous two fair managers both came aboard talking about growth. Has the board become too comfortable with the status quo that it is resistant to change and gets scared off by new ideas?
It makes us wonder if the problem is not the manager but the board itself.
We don’t know that, however, since they’re not being open.