The fair board, Economic Development Council and other organizations met this week to narrow down a list of ideas developed during a brainstorming session in late September.
“The commissioners have been really supportive in continuing the fair, and that feels really good, of course,” Cliff Moore, county Resource Stewardship director. “I am cautiously optimistic we will get support in 2013.”
Moore is requesting $100,000 for the following year; the county is projected to have about $500,000 in the 2014 general fund for policy-level requests such as his.
If the funding is granted, it will be used to create a solid plan to make the fair self-sustaining, Moore said.
Subcommittees are working on five main ideas: marketing and promotion; entertainment and attractions; flexibility in business operations; branding for the facility for year-round use; and fundraising and volunteering.
Specific ideas include a beer garden or wine tasting, updating the fair website and moving the fairgrounds.
The county is looking into appraising the value of the fairgrounds property.
“If that was even a possibility, we would have to start with a reasonable valuation of the current property,” said Rick Storvick, fairgrounds manager.
The group also is looking for ways to get corporate sponsorships to boost attendance.
Moore said the fairgrounds could handle a maximum of 10,000 daily attendees.
The group also hopes to provide more entertainment opportunities.
“The fairs around the state that make money have one or two things in common,” Moore said. “They either have a covered horse arena where they can have year-round events … or they have an arena where they can have covered concerts.”
The subcommittees will continue to look into the options for the rest of the year.