We've said all along that the dispute between the North Dakota State Fair Association and the Ward County Historical Society had become a legal issue best settled in a court of law.
Finally, the two parties were in court this week after the State Fair Association served the society with an eviction notice last month. North Central District Judge William McLees heard testimony for a couple of hours, and set a Feb. 21 deadline for both sides to submit court briefs. He will make a ruling after that, McLees said.
There really is no middle ground in the dispute. There's been much discussion and disagreement between the parties, and among the members of area communities, as well. No matter what eventually happens in court, someone is going to be disappointed. If the Pioneer Village is allowed to remain on the State Fairgrounds under the terms of a 1966 contract, those who support the State Fair's claims that the space is needed for future expansion will be unhappy. If all the buildings that make up Pioneer Village are forcibly removed from the property, those who support the society's attempt to preserve pieces of area history will be upset.
The dispute is likely to take a lengthy route through the court system, with court appearances, brief filings and potential appeals. Legal arguments aside, we've yet to see concrete details of what the State Fair would do with the property if the Pioneer Village is forced to move, and discussions of eventually building some sort of event center haven't proven to us that the need for the property is immediate. And like other interested parties, we're glad the issue has finally begun the trip to a legal decision.