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Supervisors Discuss Options for County Fairgrounds

September 12, 2014

After a detailed presentation and lively discussion among the Supervisors, staff and the public, the Placer County Board of Supervisors this week directed Facility Services staff to return to the Board in October with a plan to address operation of the Placer County Fairgrounds.

The Board specifically asked staff for strategies to bring in a new operator for the fairgrounds with as seamless a transition as possible, and begin establishing a Fairgrounds Revitalization Committee to look at options for breathing life into the 61-acre, county-owned complex that sits in the middle of the city of Roseville. The proposed Fairgrounds Revitalization Committee would serve as an advisory body to the Supervisors, gathering stakeholder and community input on the fairground’s future direction.

At the Board meeting, Facility Services and a consultant team lead by the RCH Group, reported to the Board on their assessment of the status, challenges and future options for the long-standing fairgrounds site. The fairgrounds, which have been at the same site since 1933, are operated by the Placer County Fair Association, a non-profit organization with a volunteer board of directors. The site has seen declining revenues and fair attendance in recent years. The All-American Speedway, a paved, oval race track that regularly hosts motor vehicle races, occupies a prominent portion of the fairgrounds’ frontage.

“As the District 1 Supervisor, I am intimately familiar with this issue,” said Board Chairman Jack Duran, in whose First District the fairgrounds are located. ”There are a lot of different things going on and I’m pleased to hear this report that gives us an independent look at the issues. I’m excited about the opportunities we have here.”

The site, which was an isolated piece of property when it became the county’s fairgrounds, is now surrounded on three sides by a mix of retail and residential uses. The fourth side is a roadway bordered by railroad tracks and a residential neighborhood. The assessment noted that the fairgrounds suffers from poor accessibility, aging infrastructure, a lack of signage and conflicts between fairgrounds uses and adjacent neighborhoods. 

The Board heard from staff, the consultant and the public, and discussed the immediate, short-term and long-term viability of both the fair and fairgrounds, and the county’s reluctance to dedicate funding to the enterprise. The Board also talked about future possibilities for the site, including: physical improvements, marketing, promotion and re-branding; evaluating the potential for  a new Regional Event Center at a different location; moving the annual County Fair to the Gold Country Fairgrounds in Auburn; and contracting with an outside third-party for fairgrounds operations. 

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