Tuesday Night Thunder was a major hit, attracting many people to Jefferson County to enjoy the races, but it also left some feeling the cold shoulder.
Two service organizations, the Fairbury Rotary Club and the Fairbury Optimist Club, which served food at Tuesday Night Thunder in 2016, chose not work the races again due to major changes from organizers. The Rotary Club gave a statement to Fairbury News Now on their decision to back out of the races.
“Rotary chose not to participate in Tuesday Night Thunder this year. Last year, we did a concession stand, and we were very happy to provide that community service and to help raise some money to help with the projects we do for our community. This year we felt that under the terms presented to us, and by the cost that was going to be there to serve food, we didn’t feel like it was in our best interest to have a stand this year.”
The new conditions, according to the organizations, included charging the organizations entrance fees for a number of workers as well as a charge based on the number of people in the audience. The Fairbury Optimist Club, which has run the concession stand at the JayHusker Races for several years, agreed with Rotary’s sentiment and agreed to back out of Tuesday Night Thunder.
“Originally, Rotary and Optimists were going to work together and split the profits between the organizations to help with the events we host in the community,” President of the Fairbury Optimist Club Diane Schutt said. “The organizers wanted to limit the menu from what we normally serve and to have us increase the cost. Along with the costs for having our volunteers there and charging us a percentage per person in the audience, that was kind of a shock to us. We thought there might be a flat rate, but we weren’t exactly sure how much of our profit we would have to pay.”
Schutt explained that it is a lot of work for service organizations to run concessions at the races, and stated that the projected costs of working at Tuesday Night Thunder outweighed the benefits.
“There were too many unknowns,” Schutt said. “There would have to be quite a few volunteers to serve that many people. During a JayHusker race, we spend roughly six hours working at the stand, preparing food and cleaning up after the races are over. It’s a large time commitment! There’s a lot of work involved. It makes for a really long, exhausting day.”
“Our slogan is that we’re the friend of youth,” said Schutt. “We always try to gear our activities toward helping youth or doing community service. As with everything, money is the driving factor, so we do fundraisers, like working the concessions at the JayHusker races. That’s our primary fundraiser. Without fundraising, we wouldn’t be able to have the activities that we do.”
The service organizations indicated they may be willing to work at Tuesday Night Thunder is some of the conditions change.
“We need to be allowed to do a menu of our choosing,” Schutt said. “There are also several man-power issues to resolve, and we would ultimately have to discuss these charges at the races. I understand that they are trying to make as much money as they can, but from our standpoint as a service organization, we need to weigh the costs and the benefits. As things have progressed, we just don’t know if we would make enough money to make it worth it to work at Tuesday Night Thunder.”