By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — The Central Wisconsin State Fair (CWSF) is looking into changing the fair schedule to address financial concerns and improvements to make the annual event run more successfully.
CWSF General Manager Dale Christiansen said the potential move would be made to coordinate with a carnival vendor, North American Midway, the fair board is currently considering.
“It’s a carnival that I think would be an improvement over what we have got,” Christiansen said. “Right now there has been no contract signed, there have been no contracts broken, and there are a lot of pluses and minuses as you look at this on both sides. … That is kind of where we are at, getting the information together so we can make a good, intelligent decision here.”
North Amercian Midway administers to several state fairs as well as other large events, such as the Wisconsin Valley Fair. However, the carnival is currently booked on Labor Day weekend 2018 for the Walworth County Fair.
The switch to the new vendor is an effort by the CWSF board to improve revenues and alleviate complaints regarding the current vendor, but it would move the CWSF to the weekend before it has historically been scheduled.
“Really, what we are looking at … is a board that is looking at addressing some of our financial concerns. One of those areas that we feel has been very underperforming for us has been our midway carnival entertainment, and there is no secret to that. We’ve had numerous complaints and everything with it this year,” added Christiansen.
The board directed Christiansen to look into options and return with more information.
Christiansen said that he has received both positive and negative feedback regarding a possible change in fair.
A move to the weekend prior to Labor Day would accommodate the junior fair much better as it does not conflict with the majority of school schedules. Christiansen said that the move would also shift the transition from junior fair to open class to Thursday, which would be a smoother changeover than happening on Friday.
However, the change in dates may cause the CWSF to lose its popular horse show.
“The problem that we are going to run into with that is we are competing for the draft horse competition with Minnesota State Fair. Minnesota State Fair is able to pay a lot higher premiums, and our exhibitors are probably going to go there, rather than come here, and we’ve had conversations with the draft horse people if there were ways we could do things different, if we could maybe do their show at a different time or something like that. It’s a lot of looking into to see if we can make it work,” stated Christiansen.
If the fair is moved up a week, it will start a day earlier and run from Tuesday through Sunday.
“We’re looking at this as a business plan,” said Christiansen. “Part of our business plan is we need to make improvements. We need to generate revenue. We feel that this move (would) make this fair more appealing to the community. We’re hoping it helps our attendance, and we basically went into this as a business decision, and hopefully it is a move in the right direction.”
Christiansen said that a final decision should come in the next few weeks.