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State board to discuss future of California fairs

POSTED June 28, 2013 8:17 p.m.

It’s fair season. The cows are mooing, the bands are playing, and fairgoers are alternating between consuming corndogs and beer and being thrown upside-down on the newest carnival thrill rides. Amidst the statewide festivities, however, serious administrative talks are taking place that will be integral in determining the future of California fairs.

On July 9, the California State Board of Food and Agriculture will be discussing the current state of California fair systems in Sacramento.

 “California’s fairs are an integral part of this state’s agricultural heritage,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “From the annual exhibitions to year-round community based activities – fairs continue to help educate and entertain. They remain an important and productive part of our local communities.”

In 2011, California fairs were subject to $32 million in budget cuts, causing fair organizers statewide to rethink and restructure how their respective fairs operate.

Stephen Chambers, spokesperson for the California Fair Alliance, said the cuts would actually cause the state to lose more money by missing out on the return of the funding investment.

“The fair network generates more than $126 million in direct tax income for the state every year,” said Chambers. “That represents nearly a four-to-one return on the state’s overall $32 million investment. In this light, the budget plan actually dries up an income stream that

flows to the state from California fairs.”

The state fair systems generate $2.8 billion in consumer spending, $855 million in income, 25,000 full-time jobs and $126 million in state and local taxes, according to a 2011 state report.

Currently, California's fair network consists of 80 different fairs from the state to the local level. The July 9 meeting is an opportunity for representatives from local fairs to discuss effective methods of management and adaptability that have been successful at their respective fairs.

 “California’s fair industry is vibrant and resilient and we look forward to seeing what the future holds for this cultural icon of the Golden State,” said Craig McNamara, president of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture.

Speakers expected at the meeting include: Stephen Chambers, Western Fairs Association; Becky Bailey-Findley, California Fair Services Authority; Christopher Korby, California Authority of Racing Fairs; Rick Pickering, California Exposition & State Fair; Tim Fennell, Del Mar Fairgrounds; Dannette DePaul, Modoc District Fair; and representatives from the Fresno, Dixon, and Calaveras fairs.  Additional speakers include representatives from CDFA’s Division of Fairs & Expositions.

The meeting will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the California Department of Food and Agriculture, 1220 N Street – Main Auditorium, Sacramento, CA 95814.

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