20190929-bc-fair (copy)

In this file photo, children ride a roller coaster at Butler Magical Amusements at the Kern County Fair.

The Kern County Fair may soon close permanently if it cannot find enough grant money or donations to cover its financial losses during the coronavirus shutdown, members of the event's board of directors warned Wednesday.

With only enough money to pay fair employees through June, board members voted in emergency session to authorize CEO Mike Olcott to add their names to letters appealing for emergency funding from the state and the county Board of Supervisors.

Fair officials attributed the financial shortfall to two factors: a state decision in 2011 to end direct financial support and the fair's inability to continue hosting events that would otherwise allow it to continue generating money to pay for continuing operations.

"It's not a no fair for (2020), it's a no fair again," Chairwoman Blodgie Rodriguez said during the nearly 90-minute meeting. "We are very much in dire straights right now without the ability to support ourselves and create our own revenue.”

Board members largely blamed the state for the situation, saying the governor's stay-at-home order should obligate state government to provide some form of financial help. Plus, they said the board has little flexibility to suddenly lay off workers who are state employees.

But considering the size of the problem — $3 million will be required to carry the fair until January if a decision is made to cancel this year's annual event, as 20 of 78 county fairs have done — board members suggested using social media and other means to solicit donations to the fair's charitable arm.

The question arose as to whether the fair could schedule a swap meet as a way to raise money. The fair rents space to outside organizations and makes half of 1 percent of all purchases made on the county fairgrounds.

Rodriguez said hosting a swap meet in the near term doesn't appear to be an option, however. She said she consulted county public health officials and was told such an event would be out of the question.

Board member Lucas Espericueta said the state should give the board flexibility to host events if it feels it that can be done safely.

"I’m not a big fan of a centralized area in Sacramento telling regional areas how to operate,” he said. "We should be able to make those decisions.”

Espericueta noted the fair has been unable to get a bank loan to temporarily cover its expenses. He lamented the sudden downturn in finances after years of financial progress and capital improvements.

But he also voiced hope that the money will come through somehow and that an event that has meant so much to local families will survive.

"I know that something’s going to happen,” he said. "The community will not stand for us not having a big cultural exchange like the fair.”

"I’m excited," he added. "I think some good will come out of this chaos.”

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(22) comments

Athanasios

At the end of September DA Zimmer announced an investigation of the Fair leadership. On April 25 she said investigation was ongoing. What is taking so long? They already had a pretty detailed report. Why are the state employees who were working other jobs while they were supposedly doing their state job still employed? politics at play here? To the Californian - how about a follow up?

Masked 2020

Gene Pool Chlorinator...... I did it just 4 U...... it sezs Vote Blue in 2020..... don't you just love it...

Mil

Let's try this again. I see my previous two post were quickly taken down. Coincidence? I think not.

Management of the Kern County Fair and the lack of oversight is a red-hot mess. According to the audit, the CEO and Fair Board not only failed to identify problems, they participated in them.

It’s hard to list all the alleged violations of state policies and laws. Read the audit for yourself. Here is the online link to “Gross Mismanagement Led to the Misuse of State Resources and Multiple Violations of State Laws” https://www.bsa.ca.gov/pdfs/reports/I2019-4.pdf

Athanasios

The board has done nothing to build the trust needed to now ask for money. They’ve been evasive and certainly not transparent. Closing for a year would be a good thing. They could get a new CEO and board and maybe move forward. Does anyone know what the CEO is paid to run the fair into the ground?

RubySue

The fair board had failed to add anything new to the Kern County Fair in decades. We used to have wonderful entertainment at the rodeo grounds, and they've pushed it to the Budweizer Pavillion where the audience is squeezed in like sardines and you get to know your neighbor on an all too personal level. I have been to fairs where the High School shop programs are displayed and judged. What a wonderful exhibit that is. The board needs new blood. Honest blood. Blood with integrity.

Masked 2020

Hospitality and Entertainment Industry........Another one bites the dust

Gene Pool Chlorinator

Sneaky Yorkies picks another name to hide behind.

Who are you trying to fool, anyway??

REMUDA

Open it now . . . !

COV-19 is history . . . !

We are NOT UNDER MARTIAL LAW . . . Sir Gavin Spavin . . . ! (remember the Davis recall . . . ?!)

Social distancing has always been in place on fairgrounds & we all wear our 'bandanas' anyway to cover our faces--noses, mouths and eyes for different purposes--noses for the animal 'essence' and dust, mouths for phlegm and eyes for naps . . . as well as the usual 'holdup' . . . !

Celebrate the massive rebound with study displays of the 'unintended' . . . and "INTENDED" . . . consequences (and benefits) of coming to a "FULL STOP" . . . !

"A change is as good as a rest". (remember flu season is over!)

REUP NOW. . . ! Reduce parking to $1 for a month, open all the fast foods with discount incentive, the bleachers never fill anyway, so social distancing has always worked.

YAAAAHHHOOOOOOO . . . !

REMUDA

Dr. Erickson has turned Bakersfield & Kern County . . . Global . . . !

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfLVxx_lBLU

Moardeeb

Close it.

She Dee

Why not use that land to help the people who need it most? Allow tents on a temporary basis and use the restrooms that are already in place. The water bill and utility bills will be your only financial burden.

BakoBorn

Another example of why Kern Co. Supervisors need to step up and control it's own Health Dept and its own county! Reopen everything. Reopen it now! This is a disaster waiting to implode!

clsoca

The Board and CEO has absolutely zero credibility in this community. They need to resign, if they won't resign, shut it down. If they all resign, lets give the new board and CEO some seed money.

mrdwm1

Whatever the Fair site once was, it sure isn't any longer. Redevelop the half of the property along P street as a homeless shelter; The half facing Union could hold "tiny homes" used to get homeless families off the streets & out of shelters.

TupmanTechGraduate

Oust the the board, management and let a private business run it for one month a year and it will make money to carry the other eleven months.

BakoMark

Has Olcott paid back the money he spent? That would extend payroll another month. What about a reduction in pay? If there are no events, what is everyone doing?

Take action Now

Raise your fees and advertise more about events you have going on the fair grounds. I have never thought about the fairgrounds except during “fair time”. Never knew any other events went on during the year.

Collect 1/2 of 1 percent of sales on the fairgrounds -🤩 can’t stop laughing,sorry. Sounds to me like poor management and salesmanship on the part of who’s running the fair grounds.

Cheyenne1

I would say close it, but there should be some event for the 4H kids who work so hard!

alexkelley

“Cultural exchange…?!” That’s a bit rich. The fair has become nothing more than a gang-infested, overpriced & rude parking-do-profit company extravaganza. The entertainment is lackluster, mediocre and mostly Latino & Rap garbage. The organizers no longer abate their dust or garbage so it just a dusty big stink with VERY questionable food quality. Not any kind of exciting, fun or even interesting activities or business that I recall from my decades-old recollection. I vote to let it close.

PopTart

Raise parking to $50.....

Bodysnatcher

Close it.

La

Board needs more money to heist.

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