Making a historic decision

The North Dakota State Fair Association wants the Pioneer Village removed from the state fairgrounds. Members of the Ward County Historical Society say they have no money to move the village, or a location to house the village.

The State Fair Board on Thursday refused permission to the historical society to move a historic schoolhouse onto the property, and some board members voiced displeasure that they haven’t been asked in the past when other items have been added to the village. Society members say they can’t find documentation that says they have to get permission from the fair board before adding items to the village. A 1966 agreement has been interpreted differently by the two groups.

The bottom line is pretty clear:?The fair board wants the village moved so the property can someday be used for a convention center, which according to the fair board’s master plan, could be built in the next five years, although no firm plans have been drawn up and no funding exists for the proposal.

Historical society members said Thursday they are willing to discuss relocating the village, although they would rather keep the village at its current location. In addition, repairs from the 2011 flooding complicate matters because the society received $300,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and that money cannot be used to expand or relocate the village’s 13 buildings and other items.

The village has been an asset to the state fairgrounds, adding a distinct historical atmosphere to the North Dakota State Fair and offering another reason to visit the fairgrounds. We’d like to see the village stay where it is until future uses of the property are more clearly defined. But the fair board has made its intentions clear, so we hope the two entities can work together to make the village’s relocation as painless as possible for everyone.