The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

January 7, 2014

Fair's fate to be decided Thursday

For $5, residents can become shareholders and cast a ballot on proposed move

The future of the Blue Earth County Fair will be decided Thursday night during a meeting at Bethany Lutheran College — or maybe, like political elections, the outcome will be determined by get-out-the-vote efforts in the days leading up to the election.

Shareholders at Thursday’s meeting will vote on whether to sell the picturesque but isolated fairgrounds in Garden City that have been the fair’s home for more than 150 years. The Fair Board has determined the fair, which has been losing money in recent years and has depleted its reserves, must move to Mankato to survive.

The decision, though, will be made by the fair’s shareholders, and that group is growing by the day.

Shares — and the right to vote at the meeting — are being sold for the longstanding price of $5 to individuals at Buster’s on Madison Avenue from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5-7 p.m. through Wednesday. People also can become shareholders for the same price from 4:45-5:45 p.m. Thursday at Bethany immediately preceding the vote.

Unlike corporate stocks, however, one individual can’t buy up multiple shares and multiple votes. Still, the Fair Board expects a lot more county residents to be weighing in on the decision than the 87 or so shareholders who existed when the meeting was first set.

“We’re shooting for about 300 people to show up,” said Matt Little, a Fair Board member and Buster’s owner.

The meeting is set to begin at 6 p.m. at the Ronald J. Younge Gymnasium. Following a short presentation on the board’s proposal to create a new fairgrounds, the voting is scheduled to commence at 6:20 p.m. Shareholders who want to cast a ballot and leave will be allowed to, but those wishing to comment and ask questions will be able to do so long after the voting begins.

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