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Voice Your Opinion

Written by Dennis Sun

For those of you that attended the 2017 Wyoming State Fair or past state fairs, you need to voice your opinion of what you want future Wyoming State Fairs to look like. The future will likely depend on what your opinions are.

As most of you know, the 2017 Wyoming Legislature chopped off close to one-third, or around $410,000, of the Wyoming State Fair (WSF) budget. That was huge. The 2017 State Fair was operating on a past budget, so it didn’t get hit, but look out 2018 State Fair.

To be fair, all departments of the Wyoming state government took a large hit, which is what happens whenever the energy industry operating in the state drops due to low prices in oil, gas, coal, uranium and other mineral interests. This time, they all seemed to fall at the same time, and the state was in a crisis. Not that the state is out of money, but as our bankers tell us, there is no cash flow.

The state has a lot of dollars. It is in planned accounts we can’t touch, and no one wants to spend it. Really, it is a savings or investment account, and we should only spend the interest. Wyoming has had some wise State Treasurers lately, and they have done a tremendous job of managing the state’s money.

Your opinion is needed now because I feel that only a small number of Wyoming Legislators have ever been to the WSF, and it is an easy target to hit. They don’t realize the importance that the WSF has for 4-H and FFA members and their families, and the importance of showcasing past and present of agriculture to the rest of the state.

Not many state fairs across the country are self-sustaining, and the WSF has a harder time because of the low population in the area. The business support is just not there to keep the buildings in use during the off season.

WSF has some beautiful newer buildings, but there are some really old buildings that take a lot of money to keep going.

The WSF Director and Board have said they want to go around the state this fall and winter and ask the public what they want in a state fair that is affordable. All issues should be on the table to discuss. Just remember, you and I really don’t know how to manage a state fairgrounds. We just haven’t had the experience. But we know what we want to see.

Are the top priorities 4-H and FFA? I think that is a true statement. Do we want history of the state’s agriculture and other industries? Do we want to showcase Wyoming agriculture and the culture involved? Or do we want large carnivals and a trade show that gives away a lot of free trinkets? Do we want big name entertainment that costs a lot or local and state talent that is not so costly? As a state, what do we want?

After the meetings around the state have been completed, the WSF Director, staff and WSF Board will decide what the future will be, with discussions with the Governor and legislature. This is the point where they need your support. After all, it is your state fair.