County seeks fairgrounds managerDouglas County is looking for a group or people with an interest in managing the Head of the Lake Fairgrounds next year.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
Douglas County is looking for a group or people with an interest in managing the Head of the Lake Fairgrounds next year.
And so far, they’ve had no luck finding anyone.
The Head of the Lakes management group, which has operated the fairgrounds, facilities and AMSOIL Speedway for the last three years has expressed no interest.
The contract we have with the Head of the Lakes management group expires on Dec. 31,” said Douglas County Administrator Andy Lisak. “The Land and Development Committee directed us to request proposals, which we did back in August.”
When the Land and Development Committee met last week to consider proposals, there were none to review. So the panel directed administration to send out a second request for proposals.
The group would manage the fairgrounds property and racetrack, Lisak said.
“We’d like to have just one group or one agency ... we’ve had experience with two of them and that just didn’t work,” said Supervisor Keith Allen, chairman of the Land and Development Committee. “I guess if we don’t have any, I don’t know what the county is going to do.”
Allen said he doesn’t see the operation as something the county can take on.
After all, there’s more to managing the fairgrounds than Friday night races in the summer, and the annual fair.
Several groups including 4-H clubs, the Curling Club, members of the Great Northern Classic Rodeo, Superior Speedway, Head of the Lakes Fair, horse and beef organizations, and other groups call the fairgrounds home. Plus, the facilities at the fairgrounds have been used by a variety of groups for shows, weddings and a variety of other functions in recent years.
“Over the last three years, we’ve had a real good experience with one entity managing the entire facility,” Lisak said.
“When you don’t hear anything from anybody there, you know it’s a smooth operation,” Allen said.
That wasn’t the case a few years ago when the fairgrounds and racetrack were managed by separate entities.
Lisak said he hopes the Head of the Lakes management group submits another proposal because they managed the fairgrounds in a very professional manner.
However, if they don’t, Allen said he hopes the organizations that use the fairgrounds can organize a management group to oversee the operation.
“I think there are opportunities for folks and for groups,” Lisak said.
While the county has transferred a portion of the land to the city’s Redevelopment Authority for development of an manufacturing facility for Kestrel Aircraft Co., Lisak said the grounds are under a license agreement to allow use of the property until airplane manufacturer breaks ground.
That possibility changed one aspect of the proposal the county is seeking.
While prior agreements have required operation of the annual fair, that is optional under the current request, despite slightly higher attendance this year according to preliminary number.
Allen said the county encourages holding the fair, but there is no obligation to do so.
Proposals for managing the county-owned facilities are due by 1 p.m. Oct. 11 in the Douglas County Clerk’s Office, 1313 Belknap St. Anyone planning to submit a proposal must register at RFPFairgrounds@douglascountywi.org by Sept. 30.
For more information, email the address above or call 715-395-1341.