Clancy and Commish Talk Over Drinks

Sometime volunteer researcher and avid GUARDIAN reader, Clancy, asked us to share the following exchange of messages with Ada Commish Sharon Ullman when he discovered a lack of free water at the fair–thanks to a contractual agreement that prevents the Western Idaho Fair from offering free water to visitors, despite temps pushing 100 degrees!

I just wanted to tell you how nice the fair is so far this year. But the hot weather took a toll on my body and pocketbook. We did take water bottles in with us, but it would be great to have some place to refill them. I found the Republican booth inside with a water cooler as the only place as bottles don’t fit well in the bathroom sinks. We ended up purchasing water from various vendors. The cost range was from a $1.00 to $3.00. It would be nice to see some consistency in pricing as well.

I volunteered at Tour de Fat the previous day and helped the Boise Bike Project run the water station. New Belgium provided cups or people were allowed to fill there own bottles. People were both grateful and surprised to find free water. I realized they operate differently and can do anything they want, but having water can really make or break($$) someone’s day at the fair.

Thank you for contacting me about the water situation (coupled with the high temperatures) at the fair. You are absolutely right – we DO have a problem. Part of the problem is that we have in our vendor contracts that we will not compete with them by distributing free water. That said, I don’t believe it is reasonable for people to suffer from heat strokes when attending this event. I am looking for solutions, such as having sprinklers available at the fairgrounds in which people could cool off. I haven’t yet received a response yet as to whether that would be feasible.

I will push to try to get the policy/contract provision changed for next year’s fair. It’s more difficult to violate terms of agreements that are already in place. Again, I appreciate your perspective, and agree with you that it shouldn’t bankrupt families just to get cold water to drink at the fair! Thank you, again!

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. So if attendees are allowed to enter with water bottles, how big exactly can a water bottle be, and are fair attendees prohibited from sharing a water bottle with others? I can imagine some very big water bottles and some very generous attendees willing to enter and exit (handstamps at all) to refill said bottles.

  2. Vendors would complain and demand the fair office stop “cutting into their profits”. Then the fair management would make it stop. Sucks, doesn’t it!

  3. Hubert Osborne
    Aug 23, 2011, 9:06 pm

    When we were in Sidney, Australia a couple of years ago on an unbearably hot day the city sent vans around and handed out free water to anyone who wanted it. Seems like common sense to prevent one heatstroke would pay for a lot of water

  4. Eye on Numbers
    Aug 23, 2011, 9:36 pm

    Reminds of when they built Dodger Stadium (aka Chavez Ravine). They built the place and not a single water fountain in the place. Walter O’Malley
    took an endless amount of abuse from the media. Eventually the water fountains were installed.

    Perhaps some of the media and other public service booths can get some water put in for public consumption.

  5. Hey, this is Idaho. Someone needs to die before our red neck politicians give a rip. What’s interesting is one of the fair board members is a convention center staffer.

  6. chris linder
    Aug 24, 2011, 3:45 am

    It has not been a “Fair” for years. and this does not supprise me. Maybe Boise FD will charge a stupid fee for helping a person suffering heat stroke for going to the “fair” without a bigger wallet. I also have a problem with France owning the drinking water in the City of Trees. I don’t really care for Sharon or for that matter that old dumb door knob shaking beat cop.

    But let’s get real.

  7. The trials and tribulations of government-run entertainment.

  8. Ms. Ullman should be commended for responding to Clancy. And it sounds as though she’s sincere about wanting to resolve the problem. I can’t help but ask “What were they thinking?!” when they agreed not to let the commoners drink from water fountains on the hottest days of the year. The contract definitely needs to be modified.

    Ya gotta love the irony – you can get free water at the Brewing Company hootenanny, but not at the taxpayer-sponsored fair.

    EDITOR NOTE–based on calls to KBOI 670 radio this morning on the topic, there are indeed water sources, but they are inside the expo building and some other sort of obscure spots.

  9. What ever happened to that guy that would charge something like a quarter for a big bottle of water and free refills. He was there last year…?

    Also, I agree that it’s commendable Ullman replied to Clancy…however, “sprinklers in which people could cool off?” Really!?! Im sure my 74-year-old mother would love that idea! After cooling down she could engage in a ‘lil bit o mud wrestling!

  10. Go to the butterfly exhibit. plenty of misters in there.

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