Monday, July 16, 2007

Not a fair move

I've held off on commenting about this year's Greater Grand Forks Fair until the event was over because I didn't want to in any way hurt attendance. However, now that the fair has come and gone, I can without hesitation say that I'm not sure I will bother to attend future fairs if they are anything like this year's.

Let me start off by letting you know that, before this year, I had never attended the fair when it was held at the fairgrounds. The first time I went to the fair was the first year it was held at the Alerus Center and I went every following year. I was impressed with the selection of rides during each year the fair was at the Alerus. I also thought the Alerus Center itself was an almost perfect place in which to hold fair activities and displays. I never understood why some people said they didn't like the Alerus as a fair venue and I was always baffled when it was suggested that the fair would someday move back to the fairgrounds.

That baffling suggestion became a reality this year. For the first time in several years, the fair left the air-conditioned Alerus Center and the events center's paved midway and ample parking lots for the cramped, dingy, muddy, tiny Grand Forks County fairgrounds. I'm sure some people will say that they still enjoyed this fair more than those held at the Alerus Center, but I really can't understand their reasoning.

Why didn't I like this fair? Where to start! There were far fewer rides and the rides that were there seemed very small and underwhelming. Instead of being located on the flat, smooth, clean, dry parking lots of the Alerus Center, the rides and food vendors were on the uneven, dirty, muddy field that is the county fairgrounds. Instead of being able to park in a large, paved parking lot, fair-goers at this year's fair parked in a cramped, grassy field or were forced to walk long distances. Instead of being in a new complex in a highly visible location like the Alerus Center, the fairgrounds are literally in just about the ugliest, dingiest part of town. You know how ugly the fronts of some of those buildings on Gateway Drive are? Wait 'till you see their backsides!

If you like fewer rides, muddy fields, and overall cruddiness, then I'm sure you loved the move from the Alerus to the fairgrounds. Personally, I'm not really sure I'll even bother to go back if the fair remains at the fairgrounds. I do like the fact that their was no gate admission this year, but I'm a little worried that, regardless of actual attendance numbers, this will give fair organizers the ability to claim any kind of attendance numbers they want to.

If we can't have the fair at the Alerus Center, I think it is high time to build a large, modern county fairgrounds somewhere new. I would recommend building west of town and building in conjunction with a new River Cities Speedway. The county could then sell off the old fairgrounds. Except for the historic gates leading to the grounds, all I can say about the Grand Forks fairgrounds is "what a dump!" This is no place to hold a fair.

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree that Grand Forks needs a new county fairgrounds. One only has to drive to Bemidji to see what a new fairgrounds can look like (their old fairgrounds is where the Target in Bemidji now sits). A fair at the Alerus center does not seem like a "fair" to me. It should be outside, but the present fairgrounds are terrible...

dale said...

Yeah, but the dirt and dinge is all a part of the nostalgic fair going experience :-)

I didn't go this year, but have gone in the past, and I thought that holding the fair at the Alerus parking lot was stupid. I agree that a new, cleaner fairground would be in order, now to find someone to pay for it!

ec99 said...

I always thought moving the fair to the Alerus was one more symbolic move of declaring the north end "persona non grata." Another was ceasing to have the Potato Bowl parade go down university, so downtown businesses could get some customer traffic. Of course, northenders are still allowed the noise of the races; let them eat cake.

Goon said...

You will get a lot of push back if you start suggesting that the speedway be moved with the new fair ground. Let me just say this right out it's not going to happen.

Elucidarian said...

When I imagine an ideal fair ground, it's one big, grassy expanse held in reserve for such events. The Bronson property, pre-development era, was a good example of a central location with plenty of room for parking. Now something like the soccer fields on 24th, or maybe Lincoln Park would make nice locations. Parking still sucks at both, but the lawns exist and are maintained.

Libertas said...

I've held off on commenting about this year's Greater Grand Forks Fair until the event was over because I didn't want to in any way hurt attendance.

WOW!!! Back the ego train up big fella. Who do you think you are? The day you begin affecting the attendance of anything...

Anonymous said...

I like going to fairs, but I never went when it was at the Alerus. I was happy to attend back at the fairgrounds, though I will admit I wish it was bigger. Call me crazy, (which I'm sure GrandForksGuy will) but having a fair in a parking lot or in a building just doesn't feel like a fair to me. I want a unique experience, something that reminds me of the fairs I went to as a kid, even if it does mean it's a little dirtier or muddy underfoot, so what? many of the rides are rusty machinery covered with paint anyway, and the operators are not exactly the shirt and tie types of people :-) I think I just want something that ISN'T so suburbanized and squeeky-clean. There's a thousand amusement parks across the USA you can go to for that experience, but let the state and county fairs stay the same as long as it works logistically.

Matthew K. Hartman said...

Wow GFG, apparently you have no idea what a typical county fair is like. County fairs aren't about clean, dry grounds and amusement park rides... I attended countless county fairs back in Indiana and never did I experience one that was held in air-conditioned facilities or on paved parking lots. You've apparently, been spoiled! County fairs are all about the atmosphere - being outside, playing games, riding rides, being around your neighbors... County fairs certainly aren't known for their cleanliness, if that's what you're looking for! Personally, I didn't mind the fair here in GF. It brought back some memories of the 4-H fairs from back home with the animals, vendors, and rides. Of course, I grew up in a small community in northeastern Indiana - our 4-H fairs were never that much to brag about. We, however, did offer the largest free street fair in the country!

Anonymous said...

He's right. Fairs should smell bad, be muddy, and full of crazy carnies who sound like they've smoked cigarettes for 40 years. That's what a fair is about. It's like people who like "classy" strip joints. Whatever!!! The seedier the better.

Anonymous said...

This fair was the best entertainment we've found here so far. It brought back memories of county fairs from long ago and even though we are "newbies" here we still pay taxes and would like to see more to do in the local area.

Anonymous said...

The Fertile fair is waaaaay more a family experience...I'll drive the hour to take my kids.
I did not like the fair at the Alerus. As a kid I loved the GF fair at the fairgrounds...you were pretty sure that you could be beaten up by carnies at any second...quite fun...my parents did not want us to go...which made it all the more exciting...
This year my boys didn't even know there was a fair....whew!!!

GrandForksGuy said...

"You will get a lot of push back if you start suggesting that the speedway be moved with the new fair ground. Let me just say this right out it's not going to happen."

Why is that, goon? I've heard that this is something that has seriously been talked about.

"WOW!!! Back the ego train up big fella. Who do you think you are? The day you begin affecting the attendance of anything..."

Libertas, calm down. Obviously my comments wouldn't have had much of an effect on attendance either way, but I'm sure if attendance had turned out to be terrible and I had made these comments while the fair was still going on, some anonymous poster would be there to criticize me. I always try to be careful and thoughtful with my comments.

Back to the fair itself...ok, if you guys didn't like the fair at the Alerus, I think you would still have to agree that the current county fairgrounds are a dump and the fair would be much nicer if we could have a new, large fairground somewhere. I know funding is always an issue, but would a new fairgrounds really be such an expensive project? A big field, a few barns and sheds, a gravel parking lot, and a new speedway to use as a grandstand for concerts, events, and races. It really wouldn't have to cost a fortune...

Anonymous said...

I agree, Grand Forks Guy. If scraping pig shit off your shoes and eating fried ANYTHING around toothless retards covered in mud is your definition of fun, you should move back to whatever farm in the middle of nowhere you were reared on. There are some of us who are trying to drag this city into the 21st century, and we'll do it regardless of how many of you cornpones grunt and whine about it.

Let's be a city, for Christ's sake! Move the fair to Larimore or wherever and let the small towns wallow in the animal stink they apparently love so much.

Anonymous said...

If you have 4H events you should expect pig shit. You may want to go to Valley Fair if you want concrete and cleanliness. Sorry...county fairs are what they are and a lot of people go there for the nostalgia.

Anonymous said...

I do go to actual amusement parks. I wouldn't let my kids go to the fair in this town, because I want them to be safe. Does the county do any background checks on the criminals that work at that fair?

Nostalgia is one thing, but this isn't the 50's or 60's anymore. The charming "Billy Bigalow"-esque vagabond types don't exist at these places. Dangerous sex offenders and drugged out felons run these things now.

Don't be so Goddamned blind.

Goon said...

Grand Forks Guy,
Race fans like the River Cities Speedway that is known as the action track. It has held some serious successfully events the last couple of years.

If you went to the WoO event that was held a couple weeks ago, it was a huge success. Moving the speedway may have been talked about but the idea will get a lot of push back...

ec99 said...

It's all moot. It was announced attendance was way up over last years, and that the fair will stay put next year.

Anonymous said...

I don't think I'm being "Goddamned blind" because I think the fair belongs on a fairground. Don't be so godamned paranoid about all the "criminals" operating the rides out there. I assume you keep your little kids at your side and your older kids should know better than to be alone out there. Are you so sure the kid working at the local theater isn't a sex offender. Time to get your head outta your butt.

Goon said...

I actually thought the fair at the Alerus was a good idea. Why not have it there again?

Mike Orness said...

County Fair should have never left the fairgrounds to begin with!! PERIOD. It is a county fair, and should be held at the county fairgrounds. Some of the "younger generation really need to step down and experience a real fair. AND I don't me the "wanna-be fair" at the Alerus Center. That had nothing to do with a "fair atmosphere".

Moving the speedway.... Are you an idiot?? Never will happen.

How can you have a Demo Derby at the Alerus Center?? That is part of the Fair atmosphere. So are all the 4H events, and RRV Horse Show events.

LEAVE THE FAIR WHERE IT SHOULD BE!!!

Mike

Anonymous said...

Why are you so worried about criminals-when the fricking city moved the damn jail right out into the fairgrounds parking lot! The parking was terrible this year because of that big damn building and it lil dumbass tree i.e landscaping in the way. The fair should be at the FAIRGROUNDS not at the Alerus Center. It's a COUNTY fair not VALLEYFAIR-so you dont like it that dont fricking go. But for the rest of us who love it we will continue to go. With the fair at the Fairgrounds you can have a demo derby, the races, go cart races and all kinds of activities, not like at the Alerus Center where you get overcharged to watch bull riding, during a county fair. If you pompus ass city slickers dont like it then dont go, but leave the fair at the fairgrounds where the rest of us like it.

C. Y. said...

Bingo ! ! ! !

And I think when the livestock essence clears away you will find this fair out-performed all the fairs held at the Aleru$. I think someone sold they pre-sold more arm-bands and stage show tickets this year than any of the years at the Aleru$.

Shouldn't hold the fair at the ALeru$ any more than the fairgrounds should host events like Cher.

Anonymous said...

1. The county moved the jail not the city.

2. The fair should be at the fairgrounds but parking and muddy midways need to be addressed. At a minimum new gravel needs to be placed to prevent a muddy quagmire. The carnival needs to be made to bring more rides and attractions. It's ridiculous the quantity and quality of rides that showed up this year.

3. Carnival workers will always be toothless pot heads. No getting over that. Children should obviously not be left unattended around them. The fair isn't a babysitting service as much as some parents seem to belive it is.

4. Serious consideration should be given to moving the fair grounds. The current location has been for the most part been taken over by the speedway. It seems the fair is secondary to that purpose. Because of this it seems the fair gets shoe horned into some open parking lot space and has no room to grow.

dale said...

you will find this fair out-performed all the fairs held at the Aleru$.

Although, again, I didn't much like the fairs at the Alerus Centre, one needs to account for the last character (save the period) of your sentence -- the '$'. As in, they didn't charge a gate admission this year. That would account for increased attendance, regardless of where it was held.

Anonymous said...

I have attended about 25 different county fairs in several states. The fairgrounds in GF are the worst by far. It could be nice with more landscaping, more buildings for commercial/4H exhibits, etc. Why hasn't the county and fair board made any improvements to the grounds in the 15 years I have lived in this town.

Anonymous said...

Well what a wealth of comments ! Surburbanized, sweeky-clean, Alerus Center! Toothless retards and getting beat up by the Carnies ! Dangerous sex offenders and drugged out felons ! Background checks on guys who work at the fair ? Get your head out of your butt !..................................... My comment: I was at the fair Fri and Sun and at Sanders on Sun. It was good to wait till the fair was over before comments were made. It would cost a fortune to relocate it. We have many of the criminals locked up near the fairgrounds. Talk about sex offenders ? Look at the Priests of the Catholic Church $500 million settlement in California. I have some first hand info and experience with the carnival people today. A few of us citizens helped move several semi-trucks of the rides from Grand Forks and Fertile to Minot today. 2 "Carnies" rode with me from GF to Minot, they asked permission to smoke in the truck and said "sir could you please stop at the next rest area". I have been treated worse by local attorneys, bar owners, city council members, doctors, etc. ! Give these guys a break ! They work hard tearing down equipment after show in the rain and mud till after midnight, then they drove to Fertile to help them. The County cannot make improvements at the fair, remember the New Jail, over budget and losing money and built next to trailer court with hundreds of young children ! Lets go background checks on local businessmen, priests, attorneys, doctors, teachers, city council members, etc. My next and final point is about the Minot Fair. It is all paved in blacktop like the Alerus ! Smooth, dry, and clean. I had a couple hours to look around and speak with Fair officials in Minot. Our County Fair Board would be well served to call their counterparts in Minot. Will post more later, but just returned from Minot. greenglass4.

GrandForksGuy said...

"Grand Forks Guy,
Race fans like the River Cities Speedway that is known as the action track. It has held some serious successfully events the last couple of years.

If you went to the WoO event that was held a couple weeks ago, it was a huge success. Moving the speedway may have been talked about but the idea will get a lot of push back...
"

Goon, why couldn't a new speedway hold the same level of action and the same exciting events? I would think one of the reasons the speedway would be moved would be to add more stands and accomodate more people. A new speedway could be bigger and better all around. There's no reason why a new speedway still couldn't be "the action track." Then again, I'm not exactly into racing so perhaps I'm missing something.

GrandForksGuy said...

Interesting comments, greenglass.

If the State Fair is held on a paved lot, why is it so wrong for me to think our fair would be nicer on a paved lot as well?

The Alerus may not be a perfect fair venue, but the current fairgrounds are FAR from perfect in anyway. Some major changes are going to have to be made in the future. The current fairgrounds are simply not a nice place for a fair, in my opinion.

Also, people shouldn't point to higher attendance numbers as a means for saying "See, this is why the fair should be at the fairgrounds." Attendance was high because admission was free. If admission had been free at the Alerus Center, THEN you could really start to compare the two venues.

Anonymous said...

Some people are so desperate to be "insiders" with the G.F., so called, elite that they'll support a dumbass decision to hold a "fair" in a parking lot and charge families just to walk on to the grounds.

Sorry but, I find that comical.

Fair location? At the fairgrounds. No need for any further discussion.

Elucidarian said...

GrandForksGuy said... Also, people shouldn't point to higher attendance numbers as a means for saying "See, this is why the fair should be at the fairgrounds." Attendance was high because admission was free. If admission had been free at the Alerus Center, THEN you could really start to compare the two venues.

C. Y. said... you will find this fair out-performed all the fairs held at the Aleru$. I think someone sold [sic] they pre-sold more arm-bands and stage show tickets this year than any of the years at the Aleru$.

I haven't seen any comments specifically stating greater attendance. The bottom line is revenue, which can be accounted for. Besides, a gate count might include parents or others who are merely along as chaperons, not spending any money to on themselves. How much does their presence matter? Any way, armbands and tickets are acceptable substitutes for gate counts.

Anonymous said...

Check out the Grand Forks Herald website this morning. They have an article on the fair and a poll for what location you prefer. So far, 86% of 256 voters like the fairgrounds.
I realize it's unfair to compare the two locations' attendance because of the free gate admissions this year, but according to the article in the Herald, attendance went from 11,600 last year to 45,000 this year. Forgive me, but 4 times the attendance probably isn't merely due to the gate fees. That's just my opinion. Most people I talk to are excited to see it return to the fairgrounds. I'm sure they'd also be glad to see improvements made to the fairgrounds, too.

Anonymous said...

Regarding drugged out sex offender carnies. Drug addicts are everywhere just like alcoholics. And unless someone is a level 3 sex offender, do we really know? I know that is a sex offender that works at the mall. Are you going to keep your child away from that too? There's no need to shelter our children just keep them informed and aware.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone talked to members of the fair board? I do believe there were legitimate reasons that they HAD to move to the Alerus center, and now that contract ran out, and that is why it is back in it's home location, where it should be. Does anyone know how much a "little field" would cost to relocate the fairgrounds? The price of land is NOT cheap. Does anyone know how much "a couple of sheds or barns" costs? Not cheap. If people are not willing to pay for a new 911 center in the county, I can guarantee they won't want to pay for a new fair venue. Fairs are about dirt, exhibits, food, rides, seeing smiles on kids faces, etc.

Kelly Clow said...

As someone who lives in amusement park country, (Florida) I can say that paved midways ARE cleaner, but are also MUCH, MUCH hotter in the daytime. GF actually gets warmer in the summer than Tampa does, (Hard to believe, but true!)and I can't imagine how hot it would be to have 45,000 people in a space roughly the size of a shopping mall, outside in the middle of July, and then add in pavement to reflect all that heat.

As for the smell, go to the Myombe Reserve area of Busch Gardens in August and stroll past the Rhino Rally attraction across from the camel pen and next to the elephant pits. THAT is a stink that will leave your eyes burning, brother!

I have an annual pass to Busch Gardens, and I only go in the early morning or at night. That's where having pavement has it's benefits. It keeps the place much cooler during those times. But, the GF fair isn't open that long, so I don't see the reason to do that much to the grounds for an event that lasts only a week or so, once a year.

Maybe add some blacktopped paths and some landscaping with paved squares for the rides and attractions to get parked on, but anything more would be worthless, IMHO.

I should point out that in 17 years of living in GF, I only went to the fair once, during Jr. High. So I don't know what the conditions are like out there anymore. Maybe it needs a complete overhaul, but spending any more than, say, $100,000 on landscaping seems like a waste of time and effort.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone really believe there were 45,000 people at the fair when there was rain Friday (raining out the races), a little on Saturday afternoon and pretty much all day Sunday?
I took the kids on Saturday night and the crowd was good, but I'd guess there were at most a thousand people (and I'm being generous)!
One of the beautiful things for the fair board is by not charging admission, you can make up just about any figure you want, but you might want to pick something a little more realistic.
Personally, I liked the fair better at the Alerus. More room meant more rides (this year was seriously small by comparison). I can understand the desire to have it at a traditional fairgrounds, but more space is needed one way or the other.
P.S. Kudos to the 4H kids for their hard work. It's always fun for my city kids to see the animals.

Anonymous said...

And, Lord knows...The Alerus parking lot is always empty.

Anonymous said...

Let's face it, holding the fair at the Alerus was nothing more than an attempt to make that white elephant seem useful. The place is empty 90% or more of the year. It sucks up tax money, and the people in charge of it call that tax money profit. The people of GF got screwed over when it was built and they paid for it. And the screw will continue on. Hope everyone has a tube of KY to make the experience less painful.

Anonymous said...

How was Beltrami County able to afford to build brand new fairgrounds outside of Bemidji with great landscaping, grass, and nice buildings? They sold the land...The county could do the same here.

Anonymous said...

I also want to no this...How does hamilton , ND yes hamilton some snall town by pembina get tracy byrd a pretty decent coutnry singer who is some top 10 hits and all GF can get is johnny holm on a wedensday nite? cmon someone should ask pembina county fair board how they do it.

Anonymous said...

Hey don;t knock johnny holm's and his band, they're awesome. I still get your point though.

dale said...

(Insert obligatory "cause Grand Forks got first pick" joke here)

Crash-bam-boom. Don't worry, folks, I'm here all week.

river_man said...

You're surprised that some small town booked a top country singer. Hell, that happens every year in the summer. Grand Forks gets plenty of top performers through out the year. So does Fargo and Minot. And if that isn't good enough for you, go to WE Fest or move to Minneapolis where theres a bigger market for top acts.

webmasterzero said...

I really enjoyed the fair when it was at the Fairgrounds. I never saw a reason to move them south to the Alerus Ct. I think North Forks needs the traffic, to show off what it has to offer.

But I also grew up in North Forks, so I'm biased...always will be.

Anonymous said...

To the person who talked about the Alerus in terms of getting screwed: I'll bet you're still reliving the QB fumble in the '78 Homecoming game. Let it go. It's good for your blood pressure.