BEMIDJI -- With a growing fair, comes a growing variety of visitors.
Beltrami County Fair Board members realized this after an economic impact and culture survey was conducted during last year’s fair. That survey, conducted by the University of Minnesota, brought up two major concerns at the Beltrami County Fairgrounds: the need for more seating and seating that is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
These realizations were what lead to the creation of the outdoor seating project for the 2019 fair. In just over a year the fair board has been seeking donations, they have collected more than $26,000 for new seating.
Fair President Vern Holzhueter said 26 picnic tables, 13 six-foot benches and 18 four-foot benches have been purchased and will be installed in time for this year’s fair, which starts Aug. 7. Notably, 12 of the 26 tables were made possible by grants from the Christopher and Dana Reeves Foundation, he said.
“The donations came from a broad cross section of our community,” Holzhueter said. “ It was just overwhelming and amazing the outcome -- just an amazing experience.”
Those who donated to purchase a table or bench will have the option to put their name on them, or a plaque that would memorialize the bench or table bought in honor of someone else. For those who would rather not include their names on the seating there will be a plaque option that reads "friends of the fair," Holzhueter said.
Each end of the tables will accommodate those who use electric scooters, wheelchairs and walkers. Holzhueter thinks the new seating will also benefit the fair as a whole. He said whether it was a person who can't walk for long periods of time, a parent pushing a stroller who needs a break or someone who needs a place to eat their fair food, there will be a spot.
“The benches are all maintenance free, made out of recycled materials and rubber coated,” Holzhueter said. “It makes for a more comfortable and pleasant experience at the fair.”
The Beltrami County Fair Board is no longer accepting donations for this year's fair. “We hope to continue this project throughout the years,” Holzhueter said. “You can never have enough seating at a fair when you have 29,000 people coming.”
For more information on contributing to the outdoor seating project at the fairgrounds, call (218) 444-8169 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
What: 2019 Beltrami County Fair
When: Aug. 7 through Aug. 11
Where: Beltrami County Fairgrounds at, 7223 Fairgrounds Road NW, Bemidji