In a span of less than two weeks, the Brown County Speedway will have transformed into a rodeo arena, a race track, a concert venue and an arena for a demolition derby.
That transformation in a short timespan requires tremendous effort from a mostly volunteer group, said Mike Russell, a member of the Brown County Fair Board.
"It's just a lot of organization and a lot of manpower," Russell said.
It started Saturday before the fair, when three workers employed by the Brown County Highway Department spent about eight hours using dump trucks, front loaders and graders to pour more than 30 tons of dirt and sand onto the speedway track at the Larry Gerlach Grandstand, then smoothing it to create a level dirt arena for the rodeo, Russell said.
Once the surface was ready, Russell and a handful of other volunteers spent about six hours setting up extra fencing, paneling and horse trailers for the rodeos on Monday and Tuesday.
The instant Tuesday's show ended — even before the crowd left — Russell and a few other volunteers began working until about midnight to remove nearly everything they had installed less than 48 hours before, he said.
Just after midnight, three workers from the highway department worked overnight until about 9 a.m. to haul away all the dirt to make it suitable for car races, Russell said.
Wednesday was the easiest day for fairground volunteers since the car races aren't run by the fair board, but by Nick Guthmiller, the Brown County Speedway promoter, Russell said.
Guthmiller's priority is to make sure the track is watered down to ensure the vehicles have traction, he said.
Beyond double checking the track to make sure there aren't any rocks, he tries to treat it like any other race day, even though it's a much bigger event, Guthmiller said.
The real craziness will take place today, said Russell, explaining that more than 50 volunteers will work to set up for the concerts.
When the oversized television arrives at 7:30 this morning, Russell and about 10 volunteers from the Northern State University swim team unload truckloads of sound equipment and set it up onstage, working until at least noon today.
This afternoon, Russell will call every available fair board member and volunteer, which is around 20 to 25 people, and they will spend hours unloading the 210 benches for the people who purchased stage front tickets. They will also place panel fencing around the area. At the same time, other fair volunteers will put up portable toilets, light fixtures and the VIP tent. In addition, members of the Aberdeen Boys and Girls Club will set up concession stands.
Constantly changing up the grandstand venue is a massive undertaking: Russell said he spends 40 to 50 hours helping set up and tear down the venue, but the expressions of gratitude from fair-goers makes it worthwhile.
"Yeah, it's a lot of work over the nine days or whatever, but it's worth it because we put on a great fair," he said. "The reward is just doing the hard work and seeing it transform from an empty fairgrounds to a carnival, to a rodeo, to racing, to concerts, to a demolition derby, in a matter of a few hours each day. It's basically a lot of teamwork and a lot of people working hard."
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