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Supervisors OK funding for fairgrounds improvements

November 18, 2015

After a vigorous discussion about the possibilities for the future of the Placer County Fairgrounds, the board of supervisors today OK’d spending $200,000 for physical improvements to the fairground facilities. 

The fairgrounds, built in the 1930s and located in the city of Roseville, sit on a 61-acre site that includes fair buildings, animal holding pens, parking areas and infrastructure. In addition, there is a motor vehicle speedway used regularly for racing and an adjacent grandstand. The Placer County Fair Association operates the fairground, including the planning and administration of the annual fair. 

The board also received an update from the Fairgrounds Revitalization Committee, an advisory body formed in 2014 at board direction to discuss strategies to improve the operations and fiscal health of the facility. Today the board also agreed to expand the committee’s advisory role. 

“We have this agricultural heritage here in Placer County that we just cannot lose,” said District 5 Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery. “The fairgrounds are such an incredible opportunity to revitalize that focus on ag and community.”

County staff, through its site review and evaluation, noted that there are significant near-term capital costs needed to keep the facility operating. As has been reported in previous board meetings, the fair association lacks the financial resources to address many of these costs. The county’s $200,000 investment would be for fiscal year 2015-16.

Over the past several years, the fairground has been struggling financially due to the loss of state funding, an economic downturn, lower than expected revenues and an inability to secure long-term vendor contracts. Adding to the problem are declining public interest, aging infrastructure and encroaching development. 

Public comments and board discussion touched on numerous possibilities for the fairgrounds, including whether the county fair is moved, in whole or in part, to another location. Reinvigorating the existing facility could include adding additional agricultural events and marketing the facility to attract more tourism, transportation and technology. 

The board instructed the revitalization committee and county staff to continue their work on evaluating options that can lead to long-term decisions on what to do with the county’s fairgrounds. 

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