Crow Wing County commissioner reports beer sales revenue from county fair

The Crow Wing County Board of Commissioners hear at its Tuesday, Aug. 13, meeting about how the recent Crow Wing County Fair did this year -- the first time with beer sales on the fairgrounds. Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

Another round of beer could be in the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds’ future based on the relative success of this summer’s fair in Brainerd.

For the first time, the county fair was smoke free and had two contained beer gardens. Those who smoke cigarettes or vape e-cigarettes, however, had two designated smoking areas.

“The county fair is now over, and I just want to let you know that it looks like they had a very successful season,” Commissioner Bill Brekken told the board at its Tuesday, Aug. 13, meeting.

The board voted last year to restrict beer sales during the fair -- keeping it one of the last dry fairs in the state -- and for the fourth time in four years the county board rejected the fair board’s plea to permit the sale of 3.2 percent beer on fairgrounds during the week of the county fair.

The county board approved, however, at its May 28 meeting to renew the license application by the fair association to sell 3.2% beer -- even at the fair, which began July 30 and ended Aug. 3. Beer was sold on the fairgrounds by the Mills Free Stage and by the grandstands.


“It looks like their beer gardens brought in about $8,700 and so they’re happy with the results that they had out of that,” Brekken said of this year’s fair.

Fairgrounds General Manager Gary Doucette had said the fair board struggled with earning revenue to cover operational costs and that potentially $100,000 in gross revenue could be generated from a beer garden based on other county fairs.

The county fair’s offer of beer for public consumption was an about-face on the county’s long-standing prohibition of alcohol sales. Some at the May public board meeting repeated to the commissioners their concerns about alcohol-related crashes and deaths.

“I had talked to some law enforcement who said it was handled very well, and they said part of the success was the fact that we had great weather,” Brekken said of beer at this summer’s fair.

The Crow Wing County fair is one of the top five largest fairs in the state, according to its organizers, and began as an agricultural event where residents could exhibit products and livestock, according to fair organizers.

“They increased their revenue by -- these are preliminary numbers -- about $28,000 over last year,” Brekken said.

In other business, the county board:

Approved the hiring of Brooklyn Motschenbacher, community services probation agent.


Accepted the departure of Glenn Rakow, highway department lead maintenance worker.

Authorized entering into a grant agreement between the county and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for boat and water safety grant funding in the amount of $71,918 through June 30.

Approved an amendment to the joint powers agreement between the Minnesota Department of Corrections and the county sheriff's office for work release services provided to state offenders, which increased the payment from $55 to $57.50 per day, effective Sept. 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020.

Approved an amendment to the joint powers agreement between the Minnesota Department of Public Safety and the county bomb disposal unit, which changes the state's authorized representative and the title of the governmental unit.

Approved the Minnesota lawful gambling application for an exempt permit for the Brainerd Rotary Foundation at Parker Scout Camp, Lake Edward Township, for Sept. 12.

Approved a 2019 new tobacco license application of King CBD Health Wellness LLC, Garrison.

Approved the administrative services director’s request for destruction of election material, trail club and bid records, as provided for by the county general records retention schedule, in accordance with Minnesota Statute 138.17.

Authorized entering into a contract between the county and Crosby-Ironton Public Schools for 2019 school district special election coordination services, effective through Dec. 31.


Approved the 2019 temporary on-sale liquor license application of the Brainerd American Legion Post 255 for the temporary on sale of liquor at the Legionville School Safety Patrol Training Center, Unorganized Territory, on Sept. 6 and Sept. 7.

Authorized entering into an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Transportation to provide ownership, operation and maintenance of the lighting system on Highway 6 at County Highway 11 after the Transportation Department recently installed two rural intersection street lights at the intersection of County Highway 11 and Highway 6.

Approved a resolution establishing a rural residential district comprised of the 1-mile segment of Executive Acres Road from Rock Bay Road, within the First Assessment District, east to the Center Township line with a 35-mph speed zone, including the installation of appropriate signage about the speed zone.

Adopted the 2019 comprehensive management plan by the Mississippi Headwaters Board. Aitkin, Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Itasca and Morrison counties signed a joint-powers agreement to uphold the plan.

Approve the petition of Westin Properties LLC for the final plat of Spencer Meadows, First Assessment District, consisting of eight residential lots and one common lot for residential use.

Authorized the out-of-state travel requests for two county maintenance technicians to attend the RR Brink Locking System LLC workshop from Sept. 17-19 in Shorewood, Ill., to learn how to maintain county jail locks, with all expenses to be paid from the county facilities budget.

I cover the community of Wadena, Minn., and write features stories for the Wadena Pioneer Journal. The weekly newspaper is owned by Forum Communications Co.
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