Grounds Address: 17725 State Highway 131, Gays Mills, WI 54631
Mailing Address: Crawford County Fair, 225 North Beaumont Road, Prairie du Chien, WI 53821
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COTR and county fair fall on same weekend in 2014
By Correne Martin

Two of Crawford County’s biggest events are going to fall on the same weekend in 2014. But organizers don’t feel this is a conflict. Instead, they are moving forward with the belief that a little cross-promotion and creative planning might benefit them both.

Country on the River will take place Aug. 7-9 next year, while the Crawford County Fair will be Aug. 6-10. This is happening because of the way the calendar is in 2014. COTR is always held on the first Thursday, Friday and Saturday in August, and the county fair is always the second weekend in August (though it occurs Wednesday through Sunday). Also, COTR’s Friday night headliner, Jason Aldean, and the fair’s midway company were only available that weekend. In 2015, the calendar will be similar and, once again, the events will happen simultaneously. Then, the calendar will change and there will be a break for five years.

“As soon as we realized it, we started working together. We’re trying to make everybody happy,” said Scotty Sheckler, COTR general manager. “The average age of people who attend our festival is very young, between 20 and 35, and the fair is very family-oriented. So I think we’re still going to hit our target audiences.”

“Many people think we’re mad at each other, but we’re not,” added Amanda Nagel, Crawford County Fair coordinator, who said her family and the Shecklers have been attending the same church in Eastman for years. “We are working together. We realize we’re here to bring tourism to this area and we’re going to do what we can to make this work for the community.”

Both events will go on as usual, with the exception of the Thursday night grandstand entertainment at the county fair. Nagel said the next two years will not feature country music. She said it wouldn’t make sense to compete with COTR’s free night on Thursday. As an alternative, a different genre of music or perhaps a new form of entertainment altogether will be on the stage.

For those community members who attend both COTR and the fair, they will surely have to make a decision between them or find a way to coordinate time at both.

“I’m thinking while mom and dad go to Country on the River, they can send the kids off with grandma and grandpa to the fair,” Nagel said. “I’m confident we’ll still be a success, especially if we continue to be positive about this and be creative.”

Sheckler and Nagel have been “tossing around ideas” about offering discounts for those who attend both, shuttle services between the two, etc.

“If we can find a way to make something like that a possibility, I think it would be a great idea,” Sheckler said.

The two have also already held meetings with Crawford County Emergency Management, and they plan to keep them in the loop as plans evolve, so safety and security can remain a top priority for everyone. COTR has been utilizing law enforcement officers from other counties, such as Grant, Clayton, Richland and Vernon, as well as Crawford, so Sheckler said he is comfortable that Crawford officers can be available for the fair and still allow for his festival to be covered.

The biggest challenge for both events may be their resource pool for volunteers and vendors. A number of the same organizations have given their time in exchange for a donation or community service hours, while some companies have been utilized by both events for services such as portapotties.

“It’s important that we do our best to keep our relationships with those in our area who provide the services we need from year to year,” Nagel said.

Sheckler noted that both events rely heavily on volunteers from Crawford County, so they may have to reach out to other volunteer organizations this year.

“We’re both going to lose volunteers as well as customers, but every year, we lose people for one reason or another,” Sheckler stated. “If we work together, we should also gain people.”

Marketing will be a huge part of that, both believe. They intend to cross promote each other’s events via social media and flyers, as well as on-site and in local media.

“It’s a beautiful area; people like it,” Nagel said. “If we can both continue to give people reasons to come here, they’ll come back.”