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Fair future

The struggle to forge a long-term lease--and a long-term plan--for the East Otter Tail County Fair will be the subject of an Oct. 20 meeting, 7 p.m. at city hall.

The public is encouraged to attend to offer input, noted Perham City Manager Kelcey Klemm. "It seems like just about everybody has an opinion on the fair," said Klemm, adding that this would be the time to voice those opinions.

The present five-year lease between the fair board and the city will expire with the new year.

Fair officials have been working on a long-range plan since 2004, but fair board member Dr. Bill Rose said "it has been difficult to get a coherent group together" with the various changes in fair board and city council members.

"We haven't come up with a total answer," said Rose, who asked the council to table action on a lease agreement until next month.

Some of the fair board's plans call for repairing, replacing or moving certain buildings. But the fair board is reluctant to invest money until there is a permanent plan and a long-term lease, said Rose.

The fairgrounds property has been owned by the city since 1910.

The preliminary lease agreement, among other things, states that:

---Any construction of facilities must be approved by the city.

---The city reserves the right to adjust boundaries and acreage.

---The Agricultural Society is responsible for maintenance of buildings and grounds.

Various plans have been discussed. Among them, the possibility of selling some fairground land as commercial space. A purchase of more land, to the east of the grounds, has also been discussed. Construction of a multi use arena has been another possibility.