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Kesslers Resign

Long-time Fairgrounds Groundskeepers Ron and Paula Kessler


November 28, 2019

POMEROY—Garfield County Fair groundskeepers, Paula and Ron Kessler, have resigned and a workshop to hammer out details of the groundskeeper job description is set for December 9, 2019, at 2:30 p.m. at the courthouse. The Garfield County Fair Board (GCFB) expressed its greatest appreciation for all the time, effort and hard work the Kessler’s have put in over the years.

During the last GCFB meeting, Pat Bly, of “Bly Motor Sports” suggested including a Demo Derby at the next county fair on Saturday night. He then recently spoke with the county commissioners about holding the event and said they liked the idea but that the county’s insurance risk pool will not cover it. However, there is an option to buy one additional evening of coverage during the fair. Bly could obtain insurance himself at a cost of $500 to $600 per night for a one-night show. The insurance covers liability for the spectators in the stands, not the participants themselves as they sign waivers. Due to the investment involved, he would like to have a two-year contract. He would be willing to kick back ten percent of the ticket sales to the fair association if he is paid $500 with a two-year contract. Cost for adults would be $12 and children $7. He also suggested the option of selling additional pit passes to help cover costs. A proposal was made to pay Bly to cover his insurance costs.

Bly emphasized to the board, “I’m bringing everything,” including the crew, bales of straw, and grandstands. All vehicles are checked for weapons, alcohol, etc. He can bring in vendors under his own umbrella for this event.

A beer garden inside the derby area would be fenced separately from the rest of the grounds and provide the necessary permits.

The pros and cons of a beer garden were discussed. Bly pointed out it would not be sponsored by the Garfield County Fair, it is not open all day, but only opens about half an hour before the event, closes down at 10 p.m., and is totally self-contained. He stated that having a beer garden makes a big difference in gate sales.

The derby arena would be fenced off from the camper area as well. Bly’s crew runs the whole thing, sets it up, takes it down that night and handles the ticket sales.

Another reason he is asking for a two-year contract is he feels that is the minimum time needed for a proper evaluation of the event.

Bly told the group he expected at least 500 people to attend, including those from out-of-town. Entry fees for the vehicles run $35 to $45, with an additional $15 for powder-puff. He expected forty to seventy racers, with an average of four persons per car. The arena would be located out in the barley field north of the main grounds, about 150 x 150 feet in size, and combine moto-cross with the demolition derby. According to Bly, the Demo-Derby in Dayton earlier this year cleared over $6,000 in gate sales, and the derby winner in Walla Walla “walked out with $10,000.” He said that Columbia County pays him $1,800 to come there.

David Ruark, Eastern Washington Agricultural Museum (EWAM), said the museum would like to kill out the grass in the area running from the corner of the first building to the corner of the second building, a roughly triangular shape, for increased machinery parking. Members of EWAM would do the work involved, and they would approach the county commissioners about providing gravel the area. A motion made in favor of this passed unanimously.

Ruark said work on the windmill is progressing and it will definitely be up and ready for the next Spring Farming Days. He also complimented Kray Miller for his assistance with the project.

Dave Mowitz, a representative from Successful Farming magazine, filmed the museum for a segment on RFD TV. Mowitz also visited Walla Walla and several other places in this area. The television segment started on November 27 on RFD TV Channel 231 (the channel’s name is a reference to Rural Free Delivery, the United States Postal Service’s system for direct delivery of mail to rural customers). There will be three showings of the film on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Those who do not have access to RFD TV will be able to view it later on YouTube. Ruark also mentioned there have been several other tour groups that have visited the museum lately.

In other business, the board considered options for selecting next year’s fair theme. It was decided to ask the community for suggestions using the East Washingtonian, Facebook and posters placed around town to solicit themes, which would be returned to a box in the Garfield County Extension Office on Main Street. The cut-off date for ideas will be December 31, 2019. Members of the board will select the winning theme.

The subject of whether EWAM will have an entry in the Chamber of Commerce Starlight Twinkle Parade on the Saturday after Thanksgiving was also discussed. Ruark said EWAM will not have an entry this year due to logistical factors.

The Garfield County Fair Board met on Tuesday, November 19, in the Dick Brown Community Building at the fairgrounds with eleven members and guests present. Minutes from the October meeting and the treasurer’s report were read and approved.

The next meeting was set for January 21, 2020, at 7:00 p.m. at the fairgrounds.


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