2017 fair ranks third best in GJCF history

Board of Supervisors
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     “All-in-all, the fair was good.”

     Those sentiments were shared by Great Jones County Fair Manger John Harms during the Jan. 9 Board of Supervisors meeting.

     Harms presented the income and expenditures stemming from the 2017 fair, as well as the proposed budget for the 2018 fair. For 2017, the fair came out well ahead with $85,003.26.

     The three biggest items to note concerning the fair’s income this year:

     • Grandstand (concert tickets): $1,559,524

     • Beer stand: $565,754

     • Gate (admission): $509,338

     The biggest expenses included:

     • Attractions: $1,730,141

     In preparation for last summer’s fair, a total of $286,483 was also spent on permanent and capital improvements. Those improvements included the equestrian center and horse arena, concrete work on the track, the boring of fiber lines, improvements to the Youth Development Center, and video display screens throughout the fairgrounds.

     “The equestrian center was the biggest part of the improvements,” said Harms.

     The concrete work on the track was to provide a way for the standing water to shed off the track. The beverage serving areas and merchandise tents also benefit from now working on a hard surface.

     Harms told the supervisors that weather did play a role on Saturday night attendance, though Jones County didn’t see a drop of rain. It was the weather moving around the county.

     He said national weather reporting services predicted flooding in Jones County that night, though Jones County Emergency Management Director Brenda Leonard wasn’t seeing that as a possibility.

     “There was just nothing that made any sense about those initial predictions,” said Harms.

     While the Maquoketa River took on heavy rains to the north, Harms said there was no way the predictions were going to come close to that of 2010 when the Lake Delhi Dam failed, which is what the numbers were indicating.

     “The flood elevations were going to rival what we saw in 2010, with flooding on our grounds,” he said. “Nothing made sense about that. We only had half the rain upstream. We didn’t have a dam that broke.”

     Had they headed the national weather reports, Harms said they would have evacuated the fairgrounds, canceled the concerts and emptied the livestock barns.

     “I just wasn’t comfortable pulling that trigger,” shared Harms. “There was nothing to support it other than the reporting services.”

     With severe weather surrounding Monticello, Harms said it kept people home not knowing what was going on in Monticello. Those people were obviously willing to sacrifice their concert tickets, which then meant less gate admission, less spent on concessions.

   “We depend on ancillary revenue,” said Harms. “Always have; always will.”

     The 2017 GJFC was the third best in terms of attendance. Harms said if the weather cooperated this year, it would have beaten the top year of 2014.

     “2014 bumped the records in terms of everything we do here,” he said.


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