County fair gets expensive upgrades

Pictured is the Monroe County Fair Board of Directors following a recent election on Nov. 29. Seated, from left, are Ron Niebruegge, Bob Eichelmann, Richard Woodcock, Don Schrader, Ron Mueller, Lisa Schwarze, Curt Sondag, Brian Garleb and Chris Eschmann; standing: Erich Albers, Zach Hollis, Pam Jacobs, Brad Nobbe, Roy Hergenroeder, Dorothy Schilling, Craig Schultheis, Shane Stechmesser, Gary Baum, Don Rusteberg, Avery Wheat and Henry Wicklein.

With another successful summer now past for the fair’s 75th anniversary, the Monroe County Fair Association recently released its annual income/expense report for the last year.

The report puts the total income for the 2021-22 period at $804,697.55 while expenses stand at $917,350.34, with a net deficit of $112,652.79.

Monroe County Fair Association President Don Schrader said the deficit, while being notably large this year, doesn’t pose a huge problem given the association’s goals.

“It’s not a financial problem by all means,” Schrader said. “We’re very financially stable, but we are a non-profit organization and we like to spend and keep the grounds looking attractive and a nice place for the community. That’s a key thing that we like to do.”

Improvements to the fairgrounds took up a significant portion of the year’s budget at $323,247.83 – much greater than any of the items on the report’s list of expenses.

Both Schrader and Monroe County Fair Association Treasurer Richard Woodcock described the myriad of projects that went on at the fairgrounds, including major adjustments and additions to the bleachers, the addition of an electronic sign in front of the grounds and a new announcer’s stand.

Improvements also included upgrades to the lighting and sound systems around the grounds as well as general maintenance and upkeep.

Woodcock further explained the impact these improvements had on the budget for this year.

“We always try to put money back into the fairgrounds each year to add something, improve something, maintain the buildings, keeping it looking the way it does,” Woodcock said. “Last year’s 75th anniversary and the project with the bleachers and the new announcer’s stand was probably one of the biggest expense years for that sort of thing.”

The largest source of income for the association this year came from money earned at the gate, which totaled $198,114.76.

Both Schrader and Woodcock said this figure has grown over the years, with Woodcock noting this was the largest amount of money that came entrance fees at roughly $12,000 more than last year.

“That’s a number that has been growing the last couple years,” Schrader said. “It’s never exceeded that. It has been less than that several years, but our attendance has been great.”

Additional items of note on the report’s income list are queen pageant income, which stands at $10,179 and Queen Sponsors Inc., which stands at $5,210.

According to Woodcock, the former consists of funds from donations and sponsors for the Monroe County Fair pageant while the latter includes funds earned by county fair queen candidates at their own fundraisers.

While these items are among the smaller sources of income for the association, Woodcock noted the fact that these sources of revenue made this year’s pageant almost entirely self-sufficient.

“They pretty much pay their own way,” Woodcock said. “I think that’s an outstanding thing for fairs that those candidates do enough work and are energetic enough and involved enough, dedicated enough to the fair that they go out and do enough funding to cover a big part of the expense of the pageant.”

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Andrew Unverferth

HTC web