Fall Fair looking for public support at next City Council meeting

Erin Perkins
By Erin Perkins
October 3rd, 2012

If you enjoyed the thrill of the mini chuckwagon races, the delicious food, the free petting zoo, the toe-tapping live entertainment, fun parade or popular car show that the Grand Forks and District Fall Fair Society brings to our community every fall, you might want to be at the next Grand Forks City Council meeting.

The Grand Forks and District Fall Fair Society is asking for public support in their plea to Grand Forks City Council to make good on a 40 year-old promise to give them land in exchange for land that was taken from them.

“We’re going to council to tell them that 40 years is far too long to put it off,” said Les Braden, fall fair society president. “Land won’t get cheaper, just more and more expensive. They should be stepping up to the plate.”

We want to let them know they are doing a real disservice to the people of this city and they made a promise they would get us a place.

This 40 year-old promise began when, in the 1960s, the city sold Fireman Park and the fair’s permanent buildings to make way for the mill. In exchange the city council of that day promised a trust fund would be established and a new property would be purchased.

That property was never purchased. Now the annual fall fair, which made a real comeback this year with several thousand visitors and 30 per cent more floats in the parade, has been operating in Dick Bartlett Park and the Curling Rink. But the set up and tear down is just getting to be too much for the small hand full of volunteers that make up the society and they want to have a place to call home where permanent buildings and fences can be built.

This year set up for the event took five days. The mini chuckwagon race circuit had to be put up three times due to wind, said Braden. If that fencing had been permanent, they wouldn’t have had to waste all that time and energy putting up and then taking down miles of fencing, displays and booths.

Earlier this year the fair society met with the city to create a short list of possible properties.

One of the properties being considered is a 40 acre parcel located behind the Union of Spiritual Communities of Christ (USCC) along the river. But the property is on a flood plain, so the USCC doesn’t want permanent structures built there, which is a huge negative for the fall fair.

Another property being considered is what is often referred to as “Property Z”, which is the 23 acres behind Extra Foods on 68th Street in Grand Forks. In 1996 the site was identified as a possible fair site, said Taylor. Now the site has been zoned for single family dwellings with over 200 possible lots.

The ideal property would be within city limits and be able to have electrical service, permanent structures like exhibition halls, barns and a race track.

The society is making a presentation at the next council meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. Besides the fall fair society, members from Rotary, Community Futures, Elks, the Seniors Center and the Arts Council will be in attendance.