Fair manager seeks input from community

Barbara Anne Greene

To say that this year’s Big Horn County fair was challenging would be an understatement according to fair manager Masey Tippetts.

Tippetts started in May and had very little time to figure out what all needs to be done to pull off a fair. She said she and the new fair board did the best they could with what they had to work with. Tippetts also said she wants input from the community to make fair even better next year.

That input could be in the form of suggestions, problem solving, ideas, volunteerism, etc. She noted that there are a few issues that seem to come up every year and she is open to hearing how things can be changed so they don’t come up again.

Fair board member Tracy Haley said at the Aug. 11 fair board meeting that when people approached her about concerns, she suggested they send an email to the fair office. That email is fair@bighorncountywy.gov.

The first forum will be Tuesday, Aug. 31, 5 p.m., at the fair office in Basin.

The second one will be at the Lovell Annex, Thursday, Sept. 2 at 5 p.m.

She will also be going through the fair book to find ways to make it more user friendly and informative. At the fair board meeting on Aug. 11, she and the fair board discussed some of the items in the book that needed to be clarified. They will also be looking at changing some of the show schedules to make it easier for participants to show in multiple shows.

Haley and board member Kelli Mercer said they were approached by members of the public wondering when the indoor arena would be available again. They referred those inquiring to the county commissioners.

County maintenance Supervisor Jeremy Pouska told the board that he felt the entire fair went well from his department’s perspective. Fair Board Chair Thomas Bridges voiced concerns over the electrical in the camping area. When campers were checking in, some of the outlets were burned out. He believes that should have been checked before fair started. Pouska agreed and explained he had a staff person that told him that, along with some other things, had been done. They had not been, so he let that person go. Pouska said he, too, was very frustrated about those things not getting done.

Another issue in the camping area was that breakers were tripping. Mercer said that the electrical in that area has been an issue for years. Some repair options were discussed. Pouska said he hopes that the county can make the electrical a capital project in the budget.

The board decided there would be some changes to how camping spaces are rented for next fair. People would no longer be able to rent one spot for a camper and one spot for vehicle parking. Pouska hopes to have railroad ties and gravel in place so it is clear where the designated spots are. He suggested having a staffer checking people in as well.

There was also discussion about needing more grounds staff from the time school gets out through the week after fair, making sure there are portable lights in the parking lot to fight the darkness, fixing the lighting in the outdoor arena and fixing the corrals by the beer garden.



Board member Austin Layne reported he had complaints about the school art not being judged. There was also an issue with a judge not showing up (he had wrong date) and judges judging a day early. Mercer said that the superintendents should be on hand when the items are being brought in for judging. Gretchen Gasvoda, 4H/Youth Development Extension Educator suggested signs be put up ahead of time that indicate where people should put their entries.

Mercer said she was told that even though the fair book say entries are due on the fairgrounds at 4 p.m. some people bring theirs in later. The board and Tippetts discussed some ways to make sure things work better next year.

There was also discussion about Showmanship and Round Robin that include Gasvoda and FFA Advisor Ashley Spatz.



Tippetts gave the board the profit on the grandstand events. The profit is after all the payouts had been taken out. Pig wrestling netted $1,270. The derby netted $3,095. The rodeo made $1,771. She did not have the final numbers for the concert but knows that the fair lost money.

Tippetts said she heard from a lot of people they didn’t know it was going to be a “real concert.” They thought it was just going to be “some guy on a 40-foot trailer in the indoor arena.” The board wants to continue to have a concert in the future and suggested a performer like Ned LeDoux would attract more people.

When discussing the lack of food vendors Mercer expressed, “We have to remember what the fair is about, is to offer the community entertainment. It’s to give the kids a place to display their hard work. It’s about the community and it’s about the children.”

Bridges noted that food vendors need more time to make their schedules for the year. Because no one was in the fair office for months, booking vendors was more last moment that years past. Some vendors went ahead and booked other locations. Tippetts said she is going to start on vendors in January and have them booked by March. Haley suggested that applications and fees should be collected up front so that vendors have some skin in the game. This should cut down on no shows like the fair experienced this year.

A woman approached Tippetts about helping form a junior fair board. The woman is new to the area and did a junior fair board where she previously resided. Tippetts wondered if they could do fundraisers and help set things up. The board said they would like to know more and have the woman present something to them.

Tippetts reported that the indoor vendors want to come back next year. They would like to be in the hall all week and start in the mornings. It was also suggested that a large sign be placed outside telling the public there is a vendor show inside.

Changes and/or corrections to the fair book have already started.

In other business:

• Commissioner Dave Neves was in attendance and informed the board that the commissioners would like to have a work meeting with the fair board.

• Spatz said more panels are needed.

• Bridges resigned from board. The new chair is Warren Adams. Mercer is treasurer and Haley is secretary. The commission will have to appoint a new board member