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Mathes wants fair board in county’s budget

Harrison County Commissioner Carl (Buck) Mathes took a moment to step down from his commissioner seat Monday night to make a request on behalf of the Harrison County Agriculture Society.
Mathes said he wanted the board of commissioners to create an annual line item in the budget in the amount of $25,000 for the fair board.
At the commissioners’ last meeting, fair board representative Jim Cavins requested $25,000 for this year to cover general costs. The board tabled Cavins’ request.
Mathes said the money would be spent to help use the fairgrounds more throughout the year and some of it will be held back for grandstand work. Mathes said the grandstand is the ‘white elephant’ that will have to be addressed soon.
Harrison County Recorder Barbara Best spoke in support of Mathes and said the grandstand is a disgrace and it looks like a liability. She said the fairgrounds is a landmark and it compliments the town.
Council Chairman Gary Davis also stated his support for fairground improvements.
‘We’re all in this together,’ he said. ‘The town of Corydon, we should ask them; the tourism bureau, they should help; … $25,000 is probably not a drop in the bucket. We need more than a Band-Aid to fix the problem.’
Mathes said the 4-H side of the property looks much better than the fairgrounds side, mainly because they’ve been supported by riverboat gaming funds for many years. He said the fair board has tried to get some financial help from 4-H, but to no avail. Mathes said the 4-H board hosts four days of its fair for free.
‘We need each other,’ Mathes said of the fair board and 4-H. ‘It’s been a 100-year-plus partnership.’
He said he understood that the 4-H fair had to start early and end on Wednesday of the Harrison County Fair because normally the Indiana State Fair is beginning. But this year, due to a couple of unknown reasons, he said, the Harrison County Fair was moved up and the state fair was moved back. So, Mathes said he wishes 4-H would change its fair schedule to coincide with the Harrison County Fair instead of ending three days before.
He said the fairgrounds property is way behind where it should be.
‘Our county is behind; the riverboat is a blessing to help us catch up, but we’re still catching up,’ Mathes said. ‘Maybe it was our mistake for not coming 10 years ago (to ask for county funding).’
Goldman said he wanted a little time to think about the request.
‘Buck’s waited 10 years; he can wait until the morning,’ he said.
The board discussed the idea that the fairgrounds is owned by stockholders.
Mathes and board legal counsel John E. Colin said the system would be better classified today as a membership program, not stockholding. The fair board operates as a 501(c)(3). Each stockholder pays $500 and receives two tickets to the fair and grandstand.
‘A lot of people get way too hung up on the stockholder term,’ Mathes said.
He said there’s little-to-no demand for them, and about 100 are available out of 500.
Colin said it’s unfortunate for the agriculture society to be labeled as a stockholder-owned operation.
‘Nobody’s going to get anything out of that,’ Colin said of the stock.
Mathes ended with a spirited description of the fair, saying it doesn’t have a theme like other festivals or carnivals; it simply is a showcase for Harrison County.
‘It’s about the fastest horse, prettiest woman, biggest steer and biggest watermelon,’ he said.

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