(Lander, Wyo.) – With the fate of the Wyoming State Winter Fair still to be determined, a group of more than 30 people gathered last week to discuss what’s working and what isn’t.
In an hour long meeting, a group of interested residents and potential volunteers shared their thoughts with the board that runs the fair. Earlier this month, the board announced they might have to cease operations. (Read more about the announcement here.)
Several in the group approved of the idea of the winter fair focusing on quality and not quantity. Right now the fair spans two weekends, spanning six days.
Board Chairman John Schumacher started the meeting by informing everyone about how the Winter Fair is put together each year. He said the annual trade fair usually takes $15,000-20,000 to put on and all proceeds go back to producing the next year’s event. He noted the many different volunteer positions needed to keep it going like a grant writer, judges for livestock shows, cleaning crews and more.
Schumacher himself said he couldn’t keep participating in the fair and that eventually new blood would have to take over. No hard and fast decisions about the future of the fair were made, but another meeting was scheduled for 6 p.m. on Nov. 6. The date was set after several people said waiting a month was too long, and if new people were wanted to participate they would need more time to get up to speed.
Schumacher said in recent years there hasn’t been much participation from local youth agriculture groups. A parent of one student said the time of year, March, is difficult regarding other school related events like sports and with planning for events for later in the year like the Fremont County Fair. There was also mention that the Wild West Winter Carnival in Riverton has better beef prizes, and is likely one reason participation has waned.
Some attendees raised communication issues, noting that the local UW Extension Office was reportedly unaware of the winter fair’s shows, and Schumacher agreed more outreach needed to be done to communicate with 4H and FFA groups, but that a volunteer was needed to do that.
There was also noted a need for a new variety in entertainment opportunities. One man who said he had volunteered many times in the past said, “It got to the point that I could tell you what’s going on in my sleep.”
Others suggested pursuing more fundraising opportunities throughout the year, to keep up awareness and to help with income. Schumacher said historically the fair hasn’t done any mid-year fundraising.