Sep 8, 2015

Park County raises rental rates at fairgrounds with new fee schedule

The cost of renting buildings and rooms at the Park County Fairgrounds is going up.

Last week, commissioners approved a new fee schedule that includes mostly higher rates (they're embedded below). It’s intended to better recoup the county’s costs and better match what’s being charged at similar facilities.

Park County Events Coordinator Echo Renner said she came up with the structure after looking at comparable facilities around the Big Horn Basin and at the Laramie County Fairgrounds.
Renner's directive from the commission was to create a plan that lets the county “break even” and commissioners unanimously approved what she came up with.

The new exhibit hall at the Park County Fairgrounds, officially opened in July, can be rented for $625 a day. Cody News Co. file photo by CJ Baker
“The way I look at this is it’s going to be a moving target for quite some time, until we get a better handle on our (actual) costs and that kind of thing,” said Commission Chairman Joe Tilden. “But it’s a good starting point.”

As an example of the changes, renting the fairgrounds’ Bicentennial Hall will now cost $150 per day for commercial events (up by $25) and $120 for personal or non-profit use (up by $45).

One of the biggest jumps is the cost of renting the trio of horse arenas and round pen: it’s rising from $85 to $200 for commercial ventures and to $160 for personal or non-profit use. After looking at the considerable amount of use they receive — and comparing them to other facilities — “I realized we were seriously undercharging for the horse arenas,” Renner explained.

Other changes aren’t as significant.

For example, renting a RV space with a full hook-up will now cost $30 (up from $25), and discounts are available if campers opt for just an electrical hook-up ($25) or to dry camp ($15).

As for the brand new exhibit hall, renting the whole building will cost $625 a day for commercial use or $500 for a personal or non-profit event; there are cheaper options if only renting one part, like a conference room ($75/$60).

The priciest rental on the fairgrounds remains the grandstands. It's rising to $700 for commercial events and $560 for personal or non-profit functions. That’s up from $500.

Renner said the new rate for the grandstands still may not cover the county’s costs, because cleaning up after the pigeons now roosting there is time-consuming and expensive.

A couple commissioners joked that shooting the birds could solve the problem, but “even if we remove them, it’s a great place for pigeons,” Renner said. “Others will come back.” She plans to work with the buildings and grounds department on a permanent solution, like installing chicken wire.

Commission Chairman Joe Tilden called the new rates “a good starting point.”

The new fee schedule also requires larger deposits (in some cases there had been none, Renner said) to help ensure facilities are cleaned up and that tables and chairs are put away when renters leave. In her short tenure as the events coordinator, Renner said renters have not done those things “more often than not.”

If someone wants to ask for fees to be waived, they'll need to make their case to the commissioners. That decision used to rest with the fair board, but earlier this year, commissioners substantially reduced the board’s role in managing the grounds outside of fair time.

Tilden said it made sense for commissioners to start handling the special requests, “because the charge of the fair board has changed a lot.”

The county also set a rate of $50 for a day's commercial use of the Park County Complex grounds, or $35 for non-commercial or personal events.

~By CJ Baker

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