In an effort to help raise more funds, Marion County Fair board members Brandi Barney and Brent Unruh pitched an idea to include a beer garden at this year’s demolition derby to Hillsboro city council at Tuesday’s meeting.
“The demo derby is our biggest profit,” Barney said, “but we are kind of hoping to use this to pull in a little more to offset the costs of some of the other events.”
Barney said this event would be a trial run.
“We’d like to have it for one evening at the demo derby,” Barney said. “If you guys grant us permission and all goes well, we’d like to look at adding another night or two next year.”
The garden would be set up in the same area as the demo derby, and there would be two entrances manned at all times.
“No one under 21 would be allowed in,” Barney said.
Drawing a larger crowd and more revenue was what prompted the idea for the beer garden.
“County fairs around the area say they can pretty much pay for their whole fair with that one extra event,” Unruh said.
Council member Byron McCarty asked how they would obtain permission to be able to do this. Barney explained they would apply for a general liquor license that lasts three days.
Council member Bob Watson mentioned that Chingawassa Days in Marion has had a beer garden in the past.
“I know the fair has struggled,” city council member Bob Watson said. “I know most of them do.”
“Unfortunately it’s becoming a trend,” Barney added. “County fairs, especially in smaller communities, are dying. It’s a trend we see everywhere.”
Unruh also explained that they had approached various groups around the county to ask for their input.
“We have talked to city police and county sheriffs and neither one of them were opposed to the idea,” Unruh said.
McCarty asked city administrator Larry Paine if he had talked to assistant police chief Jessey Hiebert about the idea. Paine said that he had heard back from Hiebert, who had said that he talked to police chief Dan Kinning, who was not in favor of the idea.
“Obviously I haven’t had a chance to talk to Dan directly,” Paine said, “but I don’t know what he said to Jessey either.”
“Maybe we ought to hold up so everyone is on the same page,” Watson said.
The council tabled the matter until the next meeting, allowing the board members and city officials to get on the same page.
“It seems to me that these folks have a good idea about trying to do something about raising revenue,” Paine said. “From my perspective, I’d like to have the police department and them on the same page.”