Fairgoers find silver liningPublished 11:29am Thursday, August 9, 2012
Mower County Fair officials have made lemonade out of unsafe lemons.
The temporary bleachers at this year’s fair appear to be popular, as the set-up puts people closer to events.
“We’re quite pleased with the turnout,” Jerry Risius, Mower County Fair secretary, said Tuesday afternoon.
Risius said attendance for Motokazie was slightly more than last year, which fair officials are taking as encouraging. Fair officials and the county board rented four sets of temporary bleachers at about $1,400 per set for grandstand events this year. The bleachers are able to seat about 1,200, which should work out as average attendance at grandstand events is about 500 to 1,300, according to fair and county officials.
A structural engineer’s report released in July deemed the old grandstand unsafe, and county officials say replacing it would cost $500,000 or more. Another options, permanent metal bleachers, would cost $200,000 to $250,000.
Many fairgoers felt the bleachers are an acceptable replacement.
“I was here last night and it still had a decent view,” said Laura Schwengel Tuesday night. Schwengel hadn’t seen an event from the grandstand before, but she thought the bleachers were good enough, except for the announcer’s table blocking her view during Motokazie.
“There was definitely a blind spot,” she said.
Dan Grabau wasn’t concerned with the bleachers as much as he was concerned with taking in the fair.
“We still get to see the events,” he said shortly before the demolition derby began Tuesday.
Fair officials are pleased with the set-up, though they didn’t have much of a choice. Since the tractor pull track is permanent, the bleachers had to be set up north of the grandstand facing south.
“This was our best option,” Risius said.
Though the weather may prove a factor for some events — bleachers don’t have any overhead protection from sun or rain — fair officials are grateful people still attend.
“We appreciate people coming out and giving us a chance,” Risius said.