New Oregon State Fair bosses eye profitability
SALEM, Ore. (AP) -- A new oversight council is taking over responsibility for the Oregon State Fair with an eye toward making it profitable, perhaps by bringing more events during the 50 weeks of the year when the fair isn't happening.
Some of the 11 people on the new Oregon State Fair Council, appointed Friday by Gov. John Kitzhaber, say they're optimistic they can find new ways to bring in revenue.
The fair itself is profitable, but operating expenses for the fairgrounds often have required the state to subsidize the organization, the Salem Statesman-Journal reported (http://stjr.nl/1k1JCZG ).
The new council takes over from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department and will meet for the first time in January to start writing a business and marketing plan. Council members say they hope to attract more events to the fairgrounds when the fair isn't taking place.
"It's crucial that we find the niche that those facilities can meet," said Salem Mayor Anna Peterson, a council member.
Lawmakers voted this year to create the new council, hoping it would function like a board of trustees, deciding how to run the annual state fair and how to bring more events to the property the rest of the year.
In 1999 and 2000, lawmakers approved the sale of $10 million in bonds to pay for critical repairs and construct the Pavilion. In 2005, lawmakers handed the fairgrounds to the state parks department with the promise that lottery dollars would cover the operating costs.
"Parks wasn't wild about having it because it wasn't part of their core mission," said Rep. Vicki Berger, R-Salem, who is a non-voting member of the council.
When the recession hit and lottery dollars shrank, parks officials told lawmakers the agency could no longer subsidize fairgrounds operations.
Council member Kerry Tymchuk, the executive director of the Oregon Historical Society, thinks the new council should have an easier time attracting business to the fairgrounds.
"The government contracting process is very lengthy and bureaucratic," Tymchuk said. "Some of the decisions you need to make on the fly, say if you get a good act or someone pitches a good idea."
Information from: Statesman Journal, http://www.statesmanjournal.com