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Not a fair comparison

Bruce Brooks, Minot

Jerry Effertz’s letter (MDN 19 May 2013) is interesting but compares apples and oranges, for several reasons.

Northern Livestock was a for-profit organization operating under a lease from BNSF railroad, with the full knowledge that, when required, use of the land was subject to recall. Northern Livestock was a destination for people who desired to buy or sell livestock, and was profitable for the owners. A new location, if found, will not impact operation of Northern Livestock because it will continue to be a destination for these same people. A new location will be as useful, important, and profitable as the previous one since it will still perform a valuable service for its owners and the public.

The Ward County Historical Society’s Pioneer Village existence is non-profit, dependent on a small allocation from Ward County and contributions for its existence and operation. It never was and is not intended to exist as a prime destination for people who were interested in the pioneer culture and early settlers of Ward County. The concept for the establishment of the Pioneer Village was developed in the 1950s as a valuable adjunct to the fair and other major attractions to Minot. In other words, another place of interest to visit while attending other events in Minot. Its current location was chosen for this reason since there was no concept of its being free standing and self supported.

Over time the Village grew from its first building, the original Imperial Ward County Courthouse, to include other buildings exhibiting Ward County progress and growth. Its current location was established as early as 1952, and this use was continued when the State Fair came into existence. The State Fair agreed to allow the Historical Society to “maintain” and to “operate” its Village on the fairgrounds. Now the State Fair wants to renege on this agreement.

Given the fact that the Pioneer Village has always been an interesting secondary addition to Minot’s attractions, its location is critical since proximity to other places of interest is of greatest importance. Moving it to somewhere outside of convenient public access would guarantee its demise. Unless, of course, sponsorship to enable it to become another Bonanzaville or Buckshot Junction were considered. But this is far and above the long established goals of the Historical Society.

We of the Historical Society believe that the Pioneer Village is still a valuable, interesting and educational asset that attracts many visitors during the Fair, during other events at the fairgrounds, and times when nothing else is going on at the fairgrounds. We also believe that preserving easy access to our quickly disappearing heritage is important for our culture and that not everything of value has a price attached.