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Progress on the Placer County Fairgrounds

Jack Duran
Woodcreek News
November, 2016
Progress on Placer County Fairgrounds 

The Placer County Fairgrounds is a diamond in the rough and the County has been grappling with the question of what to do with the facility for some time now. What has been missing from the discussions is a community vision on how to modernize an aging facility. 

Historically, the fairgrounds began operating in 1937 on about 61 acres within the City of Roseville; the location at the time was on the outskirts of the City.  Aside from serving as the County Fair, throughout the years the site has hosted thousands of community events, from crab feeds, community meetings, agriculture events, sports events, the circus and has served as a local venue for weddings and formal receptions.  In 2010, the state began to cut back on funding of state fairs, which affected operations, site improvements and maintenance.  When funding resumed in 2013, state support had dropped precipitously and fairground operations again were difficult, but the County’s commitment to the fair continued.   Recently, the county spent in excess of two-hundred thousand dollars on important site upgrades.  

While the fairgrounds currently appear to be stuck in the 1960s, facility wise, I am very pleased to say that the community has come up with a plan to bring the fairgrounds into the 21st century. 

In October, the board of supervisors was presented with a proposal from Placer Valley Tourism, a local private, non-profit business that has developed a new vision for the fairgrounds. The supervisors agreed to allow county staff to negotiate with PVT for the potential takeover of operations of the facility in 2018, including upgrades to existing facilities, access improvements and a continued investigation into building a new 180,000 square foot indoor sports complex and events center on the fairgrounds site. 

The prospect of a sports complex/event hall in south Placer County is an exciting proposition. Currently there is a shortfall of such amenities in the region and the 1950’s-built Jones Hall on the fairgrounds is actually the largest publically-owned event hall in south Placer County. A large and modern sports and meeting/event facility would go a long way towards overcoming the lack of available meeting space for area clubs, businesses and social groups.  Fill a sports complex with indoor sports tournaments and community events, and by extension, hotel rooms, restaurants and local area businesses will benefit. 

It was reassuring to see that when these new ideas were presented to the Board in October, many local residents and business owners offered their enthusiastic approval.  Nearby residents spoke to the importance of retaining the community feel of the fairgrounds, especially the youth activities and the agricultural heritage of the fair, while supporting small business, festivals and shows that use the facilities for their economic livelihood. What I’m seeing is strong support for keeping the fairgrounds where it is and modernizing it.  

I also appreciate the fact that these progressive ideas were the fruits of extensive community input. For over a year and a half, there have been countless public meetings and input, careful discussions and deliberations by the Fairgrounds Revitalization Committee, a committee made up of local area residents, business owners and community activists, who reviewed and analyzed a market study to come up with ideas for what the community might appreciate as a modern fairgrounds.  

We may very well have turned a corner on the fair’s unfortunate times. I’m looking forward to working with Placer Valley Tourism, other interested parties and our community, as well as the county and the City of Roseville on a shared vision of what the fair could be. When we’ve given new life to the fairgrounds, it will not only be something we all can be proud of, but it will be an economic and cultural benefit to the region as a whole. As the details are worked out, I foresee new things happening and changes being made that will put a shine on all the facets of this 61-acre Placer County jewel. 

As always, it is an honor and a privilege to serve you. I always welcome your feedback and can be reached by e-mail at jduran@placer.ca.gov or by phone at 916-787-8950.

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