Big happenings in the works at Plumas-Sierra County Fairgrounds
Fair manager John Steffanic has a lot of ideas for raising revenue to keep the flagging Plumas-Sierra County Fairgrounds in the black.
An Americana Festival, weekend roller-skating and a commercial production kitchen are in the works at the fairgrounds.
Fair board members gave Steffanic the green light to present the revenue generating proposals to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Feb. 5.
The tentative date for the Americana Festival, which would highlight square dancing, live music, quilting and other old-timey crafts, is Labor Day weekend.
A private vendor would run the roller-skating venture and split the profits with the fairgrounds. The vendor would have skates available for rent, run a concession stand and resurface the floor of Serpilio Hall to create a better skating surface.
The third venture, an “agro-product development project,” would round up local farmers in a co-op type of arrangement to grow, process, market and distribute specialty products such as “Plumas Pickles.”
Steffanic said the goal of the business venture is to make money for the fairgrounds, bring money to Plumas County and restore the fair’s position as the hub and agricultural center of the region.
The initial grant request has been submitted to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which put out a grant offering for specialty crops last year.
Steffanic presented the concept to a group in Santa Cruz and said it created lots of buzz. The grant could be worth up to $600,000, and would include building a processing plant, commercial kitchen, greenhouses and more on fairground property.
Steffanic said all of these ventures are in the spirit of making the fair become an economic engine — more so than it already is.
There was good news in the finance department. Steffanic reported he received a check from East Quincy Services District for about $5,000. EQSD had previously refused to pay the fairgrounds’ bill incurred during the completion of the Fairgrounds Loop project in 2011.
Additionally, the fair received an allotment of $36,000 from the Western Fair Association, an unexpected boon that Steffanic hopes will allow additional work hours for a bare-bones county staff.
The board approved a motion to raise camping fees at the 2014 fair, from $120 per week to $140.
They would like to raise the camping fees across the board, but Steffanic reported that the Board of Supervisors shot down his requests, for legal reasons. Steffanic said he will continue seeking approval from the supervisors, as it could generate considerably more revenue than the existing rate of $20 per day.
Board members are concerned that the $20 fee barely covers the cost of water, electricity and maintenance.
Fairgrounds work day
A tentative date of Saturday, April 6, has been set as a community workday at the fairgrounds. Steffanic said he already has numerous businesses lined up to assist in a weeklong cleanup of the entire fairgrounds.
From repairing fences and streetlights to raking, picking up rocks, grading, washing walls and painting, there is something for everyone to do.
Officers were elected to head up the newly established fairground foundation. Charlie Brown is president, Jesse Segura is secretary and Judy Madden is treasurer.
Cindy Edwards has all the necessary paperwork, which she will file with the state in early February for nonprofit status.
A fairground foundation will allow people to give tax-deductible donations, provide fundraising opportunities and create more ways for the community to be involved with the fairgrounds.
The board held its annual election and voted to keep the same officers for the 2013 year.
Dr. Robert Abbott will retain the office of chairman and Kenny Chance retains the vice chairman position.
With the addition of Kate West to the board, representing the Chester/Lake Almanor region, three seats remain vacant: one in Eastern Plumas and two in Sierra County.
‘Fun, Family, Friends’
The board selected the 2013 county fair theme “Fun, Family, Friends” after viewing a list of 18 possibilities. Marilyn Hoffman came up with the winning theme and will receive a host of prizes.
Steffanic and staff are in full swing, planning for this summer’s big event.
Some of the highlights include pig racing and tractor pulls from an Alaska-based business; American Valley Speedway races; magician and circus acts; a ’60s, ’70s and ’80s cover band with decade-appropriate costumes; the carnival; an FRC-sponsored bull ride; and more.
The next board meeting is scheduled for Feb. 27 at 4 p.m.