Board approves fairgrounds, speedway agreementsAfter months of negotiation, Douglas County has new agreements for management of the fairgrounds and speedway.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
After months of negotiation, Douglas County has new agreements for management of the fairgrounds and speedway.
The board last week approved the one-year agreements assigning responsibility for the speedway to Badger Speedway Inc., operated by Larry “Butch” Erickson and management of the fairgrounds to the Head of the Lakes fairgrounds board.
Under the agreement for the speedway, Erickson will pay $750 rent for each complete event. In addition, the Head of the Lakes Fairgrounds Inc. will be reimbursed $500 per event for use of restrooms of the fairgrounds and take responsibility for utility costs associated with speedway use.
While plans were to split the power, allowing the speedway to carry its own costs, the agreement requires Erickson to reimburse the fair board $5,000 per year for the cost of utilities.
Supervisor Alan Jaques said the county’s land and development committee is reluctant to separate the utilities until the fair board and speedway get through the contract that expires Dec. 31.
The agreement also outlines the sharing of proceeds from the sale of food and beer during race events – a long contentious issue between management of the fairgrounds and management of vendors operating the speedway. Erickson will pay the fair board 70 percent of profits after expenses in exchange for use of the fairgrounds beer license.
However, the agreement includes an opportunity for revenue that didn’t previously exist for the speedway. While the fair board charges camping fees during racing events on site, the speedway has never benefitted from the proceeds. Camping fees this year will increase $5 with the revenue going to the speedway, said Scott Luostari, president of the fair board.
Head of the Lakes Inc., a nonprofit, manages the fairgrounds property north of the speedway under its new agreement. The county agrees to fund the organization for maintenance of the property, with $20,000 designated for 4-H, open class and agricultural aspects of the fair. The nonprofit will be required to submit an annual audit and conduct its meetings in compliance with Wisconsin’s open meeting laws.
Supervisor Dan Corbin said he believes the public has a right to know what the nonprofit’s board of directors is going because of the county funding.
With the new agreements in place, Corbin said he hopes cooperation improves between the fair board and speedway management.
While the speedway manages the racetrack property, the agreement with Head of the Lakes Fair grants use of the grandstand, speedway and adjoining area during fair week. The nonprofit is responsible for utilities at the site except those costs incurred by other organizations permitted to use the facility.
“I know that we’ve treated both of these fairly, as fair as we can be,” said Supervisor Jack Sweeney.