By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD – The Central Wisconsin State Fair board recently decided to proceed with its decision to adjust the fair dates for the 2018 fair season, moving the event from its longtime home on Labor Day weekend.
“After (the Nov. 27) board meeting, the decision has been made and finalized, and we are moving the Central Wisconsin State Fair to the dates of August 21st through the 26th,” said Central Wisconsin State Fair (CWSF) Executive Director Dale Christiansen, “a week earlier than what we’ve been accustomed to for many, many years. The fair is actually going to run a Tuesday through Sunday.”
Christiansen said that the move is an attempt to reverse the steady decline which has been marked in attendance and revenue since 2012.
“What got us to this decision, if you really go back over the course of the last couple of years, we’ve been noticing every year a steady decline in attendance, and what we’ve been told by our clientele is that the fair is becoming boring, the fair is stagnant, there is nothing new,” he said. “So, we had to take a look at things that we could do to refresh the fair and in doing such, we came to the decision that we would look at different carnival companies and that type of thing.
“We were able to come up with a different carnival and that is probably what got us to this point.”
Christiansen said that they are working with North American Midway Expositions, a large amusement company with five or six different units. The unit that will be setting up in Marshfield will come directly from the Indiana State Fair, will have higher quality rides, and will be a large update in equipment.
The previous carnival provider, A & P Enterprises, and CWSF were in contract, but Christiansen said that both parties agreed that the relationship had deteriorated and that it was time to part ways.
He added that the move will result in some positive situations, as well as some less appealing aspects.
“As we talked to people in the community, four out of every five people I talked to, it was very positive. They were very happy that we are moving it,” Christiansen said. “Number one thing is to get it off of school dates – that was a good thing. There were a lot of positives in that area and a couple of other areas.
“Now when you make a change this big, you are going to have a few negatives. Those are things that we are working on and trying to overcome.”
One large conflict involves the successful draft horse show, which would now be in conflict with another popular show at the Minnesota State Fair, which is able to pay out more money and may pull entries from the CWSF show.
“We are still looking at possibilities on some ideas of what we can do to incorporate them into the fair or the possibility of moving them to an entirely different date and doing a stand-alone show,” Dale said.
“Like every good move, there is going to be some conflict. I think if we all work at it, we can come up with good decisions that will benefit everybody.”
“If we keep repeating ourselves, we will keep getting the same results,” he added.
Christiansen said that there will also be a few changes in fair entry prices, with entry to the fair being raised from $9 to $10, and the removal of the teen pricing. Ages 12 and under will now fall into the children pricing, while 13 and over will be considered adult.
The CWSF will also be running a Christmas special beginning on Dec. 1 to purchase a season pass for $20. The season pass will then progress to $25 for a limited time and then be available for $30.