Williams County Fair Board Wants Peace With Foundation

By: James Pruitt

Officials of the Williams County Fair Board will meet with leaders of the Fair Foundation soon in hopes of healing a rift between the two organizations.

The two groups have grown apart for most of the year and Fair Board officials want to clear the air once and for all. The proposed meeting was discussed at the June 16 Fair Board meeting.

Board Vice President Brian Weiland reviewed an article in The Village Reporter about the last foundation meeting and responded to points attributed to Foundation officials. The tone of the foundation members’ comments left Weiland downcast about what to do going forward.

“We appreciate the Foundation, they have always supported us,” Weiland said. “It seems like we are butting heads somewhere.”

The comments made by foundation members upset some fair board members, Weiland said.

The fair board is trying to determine where things went wrong and Weiland pointed back to the revere raffle last winter. The goal was to sell 300 tickets, but many people approached had talked to foundation members who said not to waste the money because the fair board would “waste the money on electronic locks,” he said.

The two groups have worked together before and it was disappointing the foundation did not agree with the proposed use of the funds raised, Weiland said. The fair board did ask the foundation if it could raise half of the $50,000 needed for the match for goat barn, but all Foundation President John McDonald has said is the committee has not met yet to discuss the request, Weiland said.

Foundation member Bob Crow said the recent animosity stems from the organization being charged rent to hold fundraisers at the fair which cut into the profits.

The fair board made that decision for all groups who use the buildings (except for the Junior Fair Board and 4-H) to cover costs, Weiland said. The foundation has never asked the board to waive the fee, he said.

“They could have asked us,” Weiland said. “I don’t what we would have said.”

As for not being able to give $25,000 to the goat barn, Weiland said he saw a financial report at the foundation’s May meeting that showed $25,000 in the fund.

“I’m not saying I want to bleed them dry,” Weiland said. “Maybe they could have said they could give $5,000. I don’t know, but I have still yet to get a response from them.”

In May, the fair board approved a policy that only Executive Committee members would have key and Weiland said he asked McDonald to turn in the foundation’s keys.

McDonald was told all he had to do was to call the office for access to the Thaman Building.

Instead, the foundation changed the location of its meeting to Hillcrest Golf Course and McDonald said he was told he would have to beg for a key. So far, none of the keys held by foundation members have been returned, Weiland said.

Weiland said he doesn’t remember ever saying to the foundation that all the money it raises must go to the fair’s general fund. The fair board has approached the foundation on a few occasions, but to no avail.

“We are happy to have them here. We are happy to have them raise the money for us,” Weiland said.

Foundation member Bob Crow said he would discuss the matter with McDonald and set up a meeting soon.

One sore spot that may be resolved is having the foundation take over the Tractor Show held in late July starting next year. Fair officials stated they don’t have time to organize it since it’s so close to the fair.

In other news:
Page gave an update on the Fair’s finances

All money received for the fair is placed in the Farmers and Merchants Savings account. As of June 16, the account stood at $108,353.75. The fair’s checking account is at First Federal Bank and stands at $61,086.93, accounts paid to the fair by credit card goes through First Financial and that account is at $2,360.23. Any donated funds are placed into an account at State Bank and Trust, which has $21,544.10.

The total available for this year’s fair stands at $193,345.01. Money for special projects will go into separate accounts.

All the entertainment acts for the fair have been signed. The Sunday night show is squared away as local act Joe Vasquez has agreed to headline the event and bring other acts with him. Admission will be free, but people will be asked to donate to the goat barn.

The fair board’s grant application to the state will be sent in next week. The fair is confident it will get the $50,000 grant and will be able to raise the $50,000 required as a match, Weiland said.

The Fair received a $20,000 grant from the Bryan Area Foundation to help purchase fencing around the track area. The project will take a couple of years to complete, Page said as the total cost is around $57,000.

Partial fencing and gates will be installed this year for the Demolition Derby event and other shows.

James Pruitt may be reached at

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