Fair board rebounds from recent resignations

Alexis Barker, News Edtior

Weston County Fair Board Chair Susan Bridge said she is pleased with the way the facility is running and the positive feedback the board is receiving, despite the recent resignations of Weston County Fairgrounds manager Kara Fladstol and a contract employee — followed by the resignation of a long-time board member.


According to Bridge, Fladstol submitted her resignation in March, and the contract employee (who was not identified) resigned in February. Those departures were followed by the resignation of board member Jessica Graham, and while Bridge did not offer a reason for the two employee resignations to the News Letter Journal Graham laid out her concerns in a resignation letter delivered to the Weston County Commissioners and shared with the NLJ.


Graham’s resignation letter was dated Feb. 17, and explained why she chose to resign before the end of her term in December 2023. 


“While it has always been a thankless position, the situation we currently find ourselves in has led me to be unwilling to complete the remainder of my term,” the letter says. “Your board (Weston County commissioners) appoints our board, yet continually fights us in trying to accomplish the very things you have appointed us to do. The complete lack of support and training is causing us to be liable for things we have no knowledge of, or training in how to deal with.” 


Graham noted in the letter that the board members are volunteers and that most have full-time jobs, in addition to their duties at the fairgrounds. Graham added that community members often came to her place of employment to address facility concerns, and she indicated displeasure with the level of support and guidance received from the commissioners and some county employees.


“Unfortunately, as we can’t seem to get any direction on how to handle the current situation or even a return call, I find myself trying to perform my appointed fairgrounds duties blind,” Graham wrote. 


“I volunteered for this position because I love the county fair and the facility. However, I spend less than ten percent of my time focusing on those things…The constant frustration in dealing with the courthouse alone has nearly prompted my resignation repeatedly.” 


In the wake of Graham’s resignation, remaining fair board members Linda Hunt, David Kline and Mike McFarland attended the March 21 county commissioners’ meeting to discuss the resignations and other concerns with the commission. The vacancy on the fair board was not advertised prior to the meeting, but Weston County resident Billie Jackson appeared alongside the fair board members, and was appointed to the board by the county commissioners immediately after they accepted Graham’s resignation. Jackson had submitted a letter of interest to the commissioners prior to the resignation.


Following that action, Commissioner Nathan Todd told the fair board members that they had been invited to the meeting to discuss Graham’s resignation, which he believed was in part due to a lack of training. 


Kline admitted  that the lack of training for board members needs to be addressed, but he stated Graham “is a veteran” and suggested that her resignation involved other reasons. 




“She did not quit because of training. That is not the issue with her. I will leave it at that,” he said. 


No additional comments on Graham’s resignation were made at the meeting, and Bridge declined to comment on the letter to either the commission and the News Letter Journal. Following the brief public discussion, however, the fair board was invited to join the commissioners in an executive session to discuss personnel. 


After the executive session concluded and the commission returned to open meeting, Bridge reported that the fair board wanted to hire two employees to help maintain and operate the “multimillion dollar facility.”


She also informed the commissioners that she has been working on gathering training information and establishing policies for the board so that new members understand what is expected of them. 


In a follow-up email to the News Letter Journal, Bridge explained that the current board members have all been provided with the current state statute requirements for board activity. She also said she is working on scheduling a training through the State of Wyoming for late spring. 


She also indicated the board’s intent to move forward with plans for the facility, noting in the email that the fair board is committed to continuing repairs, maintenance and upgrades to the facility to prepare for the busy season.


“We are doing great things at the fairgrounds. The event center and the grounds are very busy, and I am happy to say that we are all excited about this,” Bridge said.  


“The entire community has been amazing, and the turnouts for the events are outstanding.” 


In spite of the complaints laid out in Graham’s letter, Bridge said the fair board and the Friends of the Fair have been working in conjunction with the commissioners to bring about improvements at the facility. 


“There have been two new crows nests and a third is on the way. There are two new beautiful signs welcoming the public to our facility. New stock pens have been added for more capacity for all rodeo and livestock events,” Bridge boasted. “The poultry barn and rabbit barn are sporting brand new cage stands. These stands are all equipped with drains and wheels. Friends of the Fair has provided brand new dog agility equipment for the dog program and the facility is ready for the dog agility 4-H club.” 


Sidebar: Commissioners OK expansion of fairgrounds


In addition to other recent improvements, Fair Board Chair Susan Bridge said that the fairgrounds has also been granted additional property from the county on the north and south sides of the east access road between Stampede Street and the entrance to the fairgrounds. 


The extension of the fairgrounds property was granted by the commissioners at the request of Hunt, who  approached them on July 19, 2022 to explain that the land currently occupied by the Weston County Road and Bridge Department was originally supposed to be part of the fairgrounds. She suggested that the land between Stampede and the fairgrounds entrance — where the annual pig wrestling event has been held — could take the place of that land.


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