How can fairgrounds be better used? $48,000 study may have the answer

By Debbie Rogers [email protected]

The Wood County Fair Board president believes they do a fairly good job of utilizing the fairgrounds.

But a $48,000 study, which was funded by the county, may show some room for improvement, according to Kyle Culp, the president.

The study, which will be completed this fall and was mentioned at a recent county commissioners meeting, may show where improvements can be made to attract events in the “off season,” Culp said.

“(Or show) at the very least, we’re doing a pretty good job and there’s not as much room for growth,” he said.

With the exception of the county fair and National Tractor Pulling Championships, which are both held in August, Culp said that the fairgrounds are not utilized very much.

Culp said that Wade Gottschalk, Wood County Economic Development Commission director, approached the fair board about the study.

“Frankly, we didn’t have the feasibility or the manpower to pull off that study,” Culp said.

The board was not opposed to the study, he said.

C.H. Johnson Consulting, a national firm, was hired in January to do a study and look at the fairgrounds, Gottschalk said at recent commissioners meeting.

“To help see what we could do to make it better used, to better utilize the fairgrounds,” he said.

The study will look at what kind of investments should be made and how to attract people and revenue, he said.

“They’re a really good fairgrounds, when you compare them to other fairgrounds, in terms of both size and location,” he said.

He specifically mentioned the new Pratt Pavilion.

“We want to help them come up with a plan to help market it,” Gottschalk said.

Culp said that the pavilion is owned by the by Wood County Fair Foundation, a separate entity.

“But as far as what we … own, outside of the fair and tractor pull, the grandstand area does not get used much at all,” Culp said.

He said there are a handful of camping opportunities that the ag society hosts.

The study was commissioned for consulting services for the fairground optimization study/business plan in Wood County.

Gottschalk said that some of the study recommendations may be cosmetic and may have to do with parking areas.

“There’s costs involved,” he said. “You’re going to have to spend money to make money, if you will.”