Florence Fair Board raising money for playground equipment

FLORENCE, Wis. – The 2014 Florence County Fair promises again to be “A Fair to Remember” for its 111th annual engagement on Aug. 22-24. However, there are some major changes ahead for the fair the Florence County Fair Park.

Over the last 10 years, the Florence County Fair has been a host to many different types of games and rides. The fair board knows that many fairgoers would like to see a large carnival with rides and games at the fair. While the fair board would like to make this happen, there are many challenges that stand in the way.

These challenges include finding a reputable company that offers a variety of rides for kids of all ages, is available during the dates of the fair, will fit in the space the fair park has to offer, and is affordable.

The Florence County Fair is a smaller fair and the fair park does not have enough level ground and space to host more than six to eight rides. This is a challenge for the carnival company as fewer rides make it more of a financial risk for them to attend the fair.

For this reason, the carnival requires a guarantee from the fair. This means that the fair board has to guarantee that the carnival is going to make a certain amount of money at the fair, and if they do not make that money, then the fair has the pay the difference.

There is a huge overhead expense and financial risk to the fair for providing these rides. The fair board has kept costs low by supplying volunteers to help staff inflatable rides.

As it takes 75 to 100 volunteers to the run the fair itself, it has become increasingly more difficult to find even more for the purpose of helping to staff the rides.

After years of experience and careful consideration of the pros and cons with having a carnival or inflatable ride company at the fair, the fair board has decided to move forward with a different option – playground equipment.

The equipment will offer children a place to play at no additional cost to the parents while attending the fair.

The purpose and usefulness of this playground equipment will reach far beyond fair weekend.

The Florence County fairgrounds has a soccer field and baseball field, which are used five days a week from April through August. Playground equipment would be used during these games as well.

It can also provide more activities for a wide variety of groups and organizations that currently use the fairgrounds.

The specific piece of equipment that the fair board is looking at is called “Raceway.” It is a commercial, school-grade piece that is durable and low-maintenance. It is approximately forty-five feet long by thirty-two feet wide, and it can hold up to 50 children at a time. There are three different slides, climbing mechanisms, and tunnels.

The fair board would like to continue to add to this equipment as time and funding permits in order to develop a larger playground.

The goal of the Florence County Fair Board is to order materials and begin this project as soon as funds are available. Due to conservative planning and efforts, the board was able to negotiate a deal on the equipment if funding is secured by Nov. 1.

The project will cost $15,495.68 to complete. The Florence County Chamber of Commerce has already donated $2,500.

Donations of any size can be made to the Florence County Fair-Playground Fund at the State Bank of Florence, or they can be mailed to the Florence County Fair, P.O. Box 704, Florence, WI 54121.

The Florence County Fair is organized and run completely by volunteers, including the board members. This means there are no overhead costs and the entirety of donations will go directly towards the playground equipment.

Any questions regarding the fair or this project may be directed to the Florence County Fair at (715) 528-4773 or via e-mail at florencecountyfair@hotmail.com