MORGAN -- It took a lot of hard work by fair board members and volunteers to keep the Morgan County Fair within budget constraints this year, organizers said.
"We did a lot of work ourselves to save. I'm not above helping and getting dirty," said Kris Kramer. "I don't know where else we could have possibly cut and kept the fair where we wanted it to be."
Expenditures for 2011's fair totaled $79,193 while revenues were $59,908. With the Morgan County Council's promised allotment of $25,000, the fair stayed in the black.
"We really worked hard this year to save every penny we could everywhere we could," Kramer said. "We want people to notice we are trying to do bigger and better with the fair every year, so the problem is cutting things where people won't notice."
For example, Kramer saved $2,600 by having her husband transport temporary fencing from the supplier to the fairgrounds. Volunteers from several community groups helped set up the fencing around an arena as well as remove it.
An observant fair board member noticed pole lights in a field in Wyoming. Upon contacting the construction company that owned them, she was able to secure a donation of the lights that were used in the mini moto arena. It cost $200 for the diesel fuel to run the lights, but the donation saved $3,500 in rental fees.
In an effort to curtail premium fees awarded for blue, red and white ribbons, the fair board limited the number of exhibits allowed this year. The fair board also borrowed tents instead of renting them all from a third-party vendor.
"Honestly, we cut everywhere we could," Kramer said.
Fair board member Rod Haslam said all the cuts resulted in a fair worth $150,000 for which the council paid only $25,000.
"That's pretty impressive," Haslam said. "This fair has really become quite an activity. Everyone around knows about it."
Council members agree.
"You've raised the bar. It was a great fair and you came out ahead," Councilman Don Mathews said. "You did a good job thinking outside the box, looking at resources. You guys did the right thing. We have to continue to explore resources that are closer to home and available at a discounted cost."
Although Kramer is proud of the fair board's efforts to curtail fair expenses, she is worried that the poor economy may mean even less money in the future.
"I'm concerned for the budget hearings," she said. "We are going to have to cut some more."
Fair organizers fear that even more cuts will exhaust a community that is already tapped out on donations and volunteering.
"The economy is not the greatest. It limits what people can donate and help with," Kramer said. "We get every dime we can donated."
Kramer asked the council to consider funding security, maintenance and more county employee help in the future.
Still, organizers are determined not to charge an admission of parking fee for the fair.
"If we start charging to park or just get in the gate, it will have a negative impact on our fair attendance. We've tried in the past even a small fee, and fair attendance dropped," Kramer said. "I feel we're charging everywhere we can."
Spectators were charged admission for the rodeo, mini moto, ATV rodeo, and children's events this year.
Next year's fair is scheduled for July 26 to Aug. 4, 2012.