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The Top Gun Motorcycle show will be one of the featured attractions at the Plumas Sierra County Fair this year. Photo submitted

All things fair: Theme, fair board’s role, 2023 lineup


 By Mari Erin Roth

Staff Writer

[email protected]

The Fair Board met March 15 to discuss … many things but at the top of the list was the Fair theme for 2023. Fair Manager John Steffanic asked the board what ideas they had for the fair theme — no one had one. So they got to work on the spot brainstorming for ideas, Barn in the USA; Bales, Trails, and Piggy Tails; Around the World; Fair, Fun, and Family; Our World, Our Fair; Fair Crawl, Bugs the Limit; and, Making Midway Memories. The board finally came up with What’s Your Theme! That’s right, the Fair Board is putting it out to the public: What’s your theme? Submit ideas on the Plumas Sierra County Fair website at plumas-sierracountyfair.net, call Fair Manager John Steffanic at 283-6272 and leave a message with your idea, or email your idea to [email protected]. It’s your fair, your theme.

Fair entertainment

Steffanic attended the annual Fair Convention in Reno where entertainment, food and merchandise vendors, and all things “fair” are marketed. Steffanic delivered the goods with most of the lineup in place for Fair 2023. Fair goers will see The Steel Drum, Swan Bros Circus, Quircus (with an expanded presentation), Canine Stars (from America’s Got Talent), Cook’s Racing Pigs, Powerhouse, Robert Cornelius (strolling musician), all within the budget. Specialty shows pending included an Oregon-based company with an insect display that could be in the Mineral Building, (YES!) and The FMX Top Gun Motorcycle Show for the Grand Stand stage. (I could smell the exhaust and dirt just watching the videos online.) The Fair Manager suggested alternating entertainment types for the big stadium stage. The music shows there last year attracted 400-500 people after much advertisement, and local recognition. The hope is to attract 1500 for a show in that, the largest, venue. “So, no music,” was the response from the board. There will be music in Old Town starting Thursday night with California Dream (Kareoke), Danny Horton (who opened for Jake Jacobsen last year) will perform Friday night, and Rummy with fill out the nightly musical faire Saturday night. You may remember that last year the whole Rummy band got Covid and Danny Horton stepped up to fill the slot. California Dream will perform classic hits Saturday and Sunday afternoons, returning after 15 years when he performed in an Eagles tribute band at our fair in 2008. Steffanic described his vision of the entertainment layout and concluded with, “Things will be happening all over the place!.” He did not say, “It will be the best fair, ever,” but everyone knew he was thinking it.

Exhibit guide

“The sample guide was sent out to all kinds of people,” said Steffanic. Since livestock events will be returning to a 4-day schedule, many times have changed. Poultry inspection will be in the morning, and new cages were acquired for poultry and for rabbits. The horse show was taken out of the schedule due to conflicts for presenters. 4H and FFA horse shows will be at other times, “Too many kids have other Ag events during the fair,” said Steffanic. Four pages were removed from the exhibit guide by listing senior and junior participant categories by event instead of listing separately. With all the changes, Steffanic requested as the board reviews the guide they keep a sharp eye out for things overlapping that should not. Changes were based on recommendations from “people in the know.”

A special guest

Sara James from Plumas County Counsel made a presentation to the board. James addressed the board to outline points on a few topics: The Brown Act (a California law that guarantees the public’s right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies), the official role of the Plumas Sierra County Fair Board, and finally, a discussion of redistricting and the impact on the Plumas Sierra County Fair Board. The presentation took about an hour. Because of redistricting, some of the current Fair Board representatives no longer reside in the designated areas they were selected to represent. The ripple effect of these changes will take effect at the end of any affected board member’s current term. As a result of the redistricting, there are three board members in an area that should have two. Board member terms are two years and there are openings: Two in Chester, one in Quincy, one in Portola/Beckwourth, and one for a member residing in Graeagle.

The board is an advisory board only, that is their role. Fair employees are employees of the County, and all Fair employment is in accordance with County regulations regarding employment. Generally, the fair manager and the board work on the fair issues vs. all fair issues being taken up to the County Board of Supervisors. The topic was addressed because it appeared the fair board has been looking outside their hoola hoop. Bottomline, the Fair Board focus is the Plumas Sierra County Fair, not the fairgrounds. The board getting involved in interim events and things outside the fair needs to be reigned back in. In an effort to clarify things for current and future board members a set of guidelines for the Fair Board was discussed to be created or an old set may be resurrected.

Help needed

The board needs a secretary to take minutes at board meetings. There is a stipend to pay the person who will attend board meetings, record minutes, type minutes, have electronic copies to board members a week before the meeting, and have hard copies available at the following board meeting.

Determination letter 

The Dept. of Food and Agriculture, Fairs & Expositions has determined that the Plumas Sierra County Fair Board can make a local rule prohibiting exhibitors in good standing with local organization from showing at the Fair if they live outside of county limits. Furthermore, the Junior Livestock must follow the Fair Board decision as to whether exhibitors can sell to be in compliance with State Rules. The verbiage now says if an exhibitor shows an animal that they have to sell the animal. That is the State wording. The new verbiage is you cannot show (because you would have to sell). It was recommended the Board adopt the wording from the Plumas Sierra Junior Livestock for this year, and if anything needs to be changed, to work on it in the fall. The motion was made and passed, so, now out of county persons cannot show at the Fair and therefore cannot sell.

Building and Maintenance

The board was provided a packet with lists of projects and the status of the projects, and a new list with those projects in a priority order based monies that remain for the fiscal year. One highlight was hydroseeding on the lawn. “Fingers are crossed it will come in thick enough,” said Steffanic of the $30,000 project. “Sod would be a couple hundred thousand dollars,” said Steffanic. “When Fire Camp left, we had to get them a list of damages within a couple of weeks. They would not pay for sod (to replace the damaged lawn), they would pay for the seed.” The camp ended in November and the ground was already too cold. The alternative at the time was to cover the bare spots with soil. In the springtime after Fire Camp, “We couldn’t find anyone to do it, there were no vendors,” said Steffanic. But as luck would have it, if the grass had been repaired in May or June it would have been ruined by High Sierra Music Fest in July. The number one complaint from fair-goers in 2022 was the dirt where lawn used to be. Through the summer and fall Steffanic looked for a vendor (the money for the work was carried over from the previous years’ budget) and finally a connection was made with a vendor that agreed to do the work deep into fall. “He said it would work,” said Steffanic, “and we are hoping it’s in thick enough.” Thick enough to survive the thousands of festies wandering the fairgrounds for five days during High Sierra which is two weeks closer to the fair’s new dates. “The date change is necessary if we want a carnival,” said Steffanic. “If we want a carnival, that’s the only week we can do the fair.” Another project to get done before the fair is the installation of large fans in the SPI building. The ongoing lock fiasco continues. The fairgrounds were refunded monies for a job not completed due to very unfortunate circumstances but as for finding a new locksmith to complete the job, “Locksmiths are not readily available.”

New officers

The annual election of officers took place and Jim Griffin was elected to be the new president and Susan Neer was elected to be the new Vice President. The next Fair Board meeting will be held in the Tulsa Scott Building on Wednesday, April 19, and 5 p.m.



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