An opinion by Vilas County Corporation Counsel Jack Albert that the rental of space for political reasons at the Vilas County Fairgrounds “did not meet the purposes of ‘a county fair’ under the fairgrounds lease” to the Vilas County Agricultural Society was quashed by the Vilas County Forestry, Recreation & Land Committee last week.

That opinion was in response to “many complaints” related to political signage in the parking lot at the fairgrounds along Highway 70 West in Eagle River.

The signage was part of space rented by an individual selling political items, including signs and shirts.

Dale Ayers, president of the Vilas County Fair Board of Directors, said the association was just trying to get some additional revenue.

“You ask us to try to be self-sufficient and rent and then you take it away. They had both Biden and Trump material and we told them they had to take it down at night and they did,” said Ayers.

Supervisor Jay Verhulst suggested the fair board make the decision and not the corporation counsel Vilas County Board Chairman Ron DeBruyne had more blunt remarks.

“I’ve been at the fair and I’ve talked to politicians attending and both parties had booth rental at the fair,” DeBruyne said. “I know the public is polarized on this political issue. The fair board is trying to be self sufficient and we’re stoping them. I disagree with our corporation counsel’s opinion.”

Verhulst added that the purpose of the fair is at the discretion of the fair board.

Ayers informed the committee that with the COVID-19 pandemic, there are other groups using the fair property, including some selling food concessions from fair-style vendor wagons. The Vilas County Fair was canceled in August due to the pandemic, so the fair board is looking for alterative revenues, according to Ayers.

County Forest Administrator Al Murray suggested the fair board lease be revamped.

“There may be weakness in the lease language and we should look at adding language that allows the fair board to rent space,” said Murray.

Disc golf proposed

A proposal to establish a disc golf course at Oldenburg Sports Park on Highway G west of Eagle River was enthusiastically supported by the committee.

Sam Warner of Scout Troop 601, introduced the plan as his Eagle Scout project. It would consist of a nine-hole course with concrete pads. He estimated he will need to raise $3,000 to $5,000 to complete the project.

Disc golf is a flying disc sport in which players throw a disc at a target, usually a golf disc basket. It is played using rules similar to golf. 

“This is another recreational opportunity for Vilas County,” said DeBruyne, thanking Warner for coming up with the idea.

The committee approved the idea and directed Murray to draft a lease agreement for review. For more information about the disc golf project and donations ,contact Warner at (715) 891-9174 or 

Other business

In other business, the committee will ask the county Highway Committee to approve a portion of Highway H in Vilas County for snowmobile travel as private landowners along the approximately 500 feet of highway will not permit a snowmobile trail on their property. 

The committee also will ask the highway committee to allow year-round ATV/UTV use of Highway G from Highway 45 to Peterson Road, and Highway K from the Conover/Phelps town line to Three Springs Road.

Murray handed out an inventory of county-owned park and other outdoor recreation facilities that have safety issues. The list includes boat landings, panfishing piers, parks, shooting range, swimming beaches, public parking areas and other day-use areas.

It was reported that timber sale revenue on the county forest for September was $77,207, bringing the years’ total through September to $315,389.