Every August, the Aberdeen Hockey Association turns out in force to staff the clubhouse. The hockey group, which obtains a special malt beverage license for the fair, is in charge of beer sales at the clubhouse. The group staffs the three bars inside the clubhouse and the two under the tent next door.
When the clubhouse is really rocking on Friday and Saturday night, about 50 hockey volunteers will be on duty, said Duke Witte, president of the Aberdeen Hockey Association.
Between 200 and 230 young people play hockey in Aberdeen, and almost all of their parents pitch in during the fair. The average hockey volunteer works about 10 hours at the clubhouse.
They’re not all hockey parents. Some are hockey grandparents.
“Some people that are no longer involved with hockey will still come back and give back,” Witte said. “That’s really nice to see that.”
The clubhouse is one of the fairgrounds’ busiest locales. Crowds especially grow once the grandstand concerts finish. From then on, “There’s not much wiggle room in there,” Witte said.
The Brown County Fair is one of the big fundraisers of the year for the hockey association, which has been staffing the clubhouse at least since the 1990s. The hockey group has a good relationship with the fair and with Brown County, Witte said.
“What they’re looking for is an association that has the manpower to handle something that’s that big, and we’re one of very few that are able to do that,” Witte said.
You will also see hockey parents working at Aberdeen Wings games. The Aberdeen Hockey Association owns the Odde Ice Center, where the Wings play.
“They basically rent the ice from us,” he said. As part of the agreement, “we’ll offer volunteer services during their home games,” he said.
In addition to the special event license for the fair, the hockey association has a malt beverage license that is limited to events at the Odde Ice Center.
At an average Wings game, the Aberdeen Hockey Association provides 12 to 15 volunteers. In addition to selling beer at those games, the hockey group sells food. They also serve as penalty box workers, goal judges — “basically the game-day personnel,” Witte said.
The fair and Wings games are two of the hockey group’s three main fundraisers. The other is an annual raffle.
Witte said that hockey is a fairly expensive sport.
"Keeping ice inside a building is not cheap,” and the cost of electricity continues to rise.
So the hockey association looks to “partner with folks” and keep a revenue stream coming. That allows the organization to keep its registration fees comparatively low.
“If you look at us compared to a team in Minnesota or even Rapid City, for that matter, our registration fees are a fraction of what they are,” Witte said.
The hockey group sometimes provides a work force for other events at the Odde Ice Center, such as mixed martial arts or a concert. One such concert was the Aaron Tippin show in June, which was switched from old Fossum Field to Odde because of weather.
Historically, bull riding was each spring at the Holum Expo Building or, later, the Odde Ice Center.