Archive for Wednesday, April 18, 2001

VFW fears beverage plan will drain fair booth profits

April 18, 2001

The Leavenworth County Fair Board's plan to enter into an exclusive agreement with an area bottling company has raised the ire of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post.

In fact, VFW member Harold Denholm calls it a disaster.

Monday night, the fair board, on a 10-6 vote, approved an agreement with the American Bottling Company.

Under the pact, American Bottling would pay the fair board $3,000 for exclusive rights to provide soft drinks, water and Gatorade in plastic bottles to food booths at this August's Leavenworth County Fair.

If the contract were renewed for the 2002 fair, the fair board would make $5,000.

But Denholm says the action will cut into the VFW's profits from its food stand profits would benefit people in Tonganoxie.

"The VFW depends primarily on drinks, and about half of our sales are ountain drinks, which are totally out," Denholm said. "This new contract increases the cost of our product."

David Todd, fair board president, said the board is interested in increasing its bottom line, in an effort to make improvements at the fairgrounds. The fairgrounds are owned by the Leavenworth County Fair Association. The fairgrounds has four permanent food stands, operated by the Happy Helpers 4-H Club, the Leavenworth County 4-H Council, the Tonganoxie Methodist Church and the VFW.

"What it all boils down to is the board, like many other organizations out there, is trying to figure out additional ways to create revenue," said Todd, who votes at board meetings only in case of ties.

The fair board agreed Monday night to approve the one-year pact with American Bottling.

"Their idea is, 'Let's try it,'" Todd said. "If it doesn't work this year, we'll admit we were wrong."

During the 2000 fair, American Bottling had an agreement to sell drinks in the grand stand through a Boy Scout troop.

"Everything went great for them," Todd said.

Denholm said the prices dictated by American Bottling are higher than VFW members can find elsewhere. He said VFW members had hoped to use proceeds from this year's fair to work on the interior of the post's new building near Reusch Memorial VFW Park.

"That doesn't look too good right now," he said.

Todd said the board didn't enter into the pact because of rumored money problems.

"We're doing fine, as far as we're able to pay all of our bills," he said.

But each year the board tries to make improvements at the fairgrounds, which this agreement would help.

"In order to continue to grow and improve the facilities, we have to improve the cash flow," Todd said. "I hope people understand where we're coming from. We want to give it a try and see what happens."

"What it all boils down to is the board, like many other organizations out there, is trying to figure out additional ways to create revenue," said Todd, who votes at board meetings only in the case of ties. "We were trying to figure out a way that we could get a little piece of this corporate-type thing in Leavenworth County. We're looking for a place to start."

The fair board agreed Monday night to approve the one-year pact with American Bottling.

"Their idea is, 'Let's try it,'" Todd said. "If it doesn't work this year, we'll admit we were wrong."

During the 2000 fair, American Bottling had an agreement to sell drinks in the grand stand through a Boy Scout troop.

"Everything went great for them," Todd said.

Denholm said the prices dictated by American Bottling are higher than VFW members can find elsewhere. And along with food, such as hot dogs and sausages, the VFW sold fountain drinks, which aren't allowed under the new agreement.

"Our big trade is just drinks," Denholm said.

He said VFW members had hoped to use proceeds from this year's fair to work on the interior of the post's new building near Reusch Memorial VFW Park.

"That doesn't look too good right now," he said.

Todd said that the fair board didn't enter into the agreement because of rumored money problems.

"We're doing fine, as far as we're able to pay all of our bills," he said.

But each year the board tries to make improvements at the fairgrounds, which this agreement would help.

"In order to continue to grow and improve the facilities, we have to improve the cash flow," Todd said. "I hope the people understand where we're coming from. We want to give it a try and see what happens."

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