Like many of you, I am strongly supporting the “Save the Del Norte Fair” movement. We have been greeted with substantial enthusiasm for the effort, which will hopefully conclude with the successful passage of Measure F by voters in November.
But I do have some concerns. With all these early cheers for the Del Norte County Fair, a bit of complacency has drifted over the campaign.
Let’s be perfectly clear: It is going to take a lot of hard work by a lot of people to make sure the Del Norte County Fair and the Del Norte Fairgrounds stay open long into the future.
A bit of background: Funding for county fairs was basically discontinued by the state of California several years ago. As a result, some fairs are shutting down. The directors and the management of the Del Norte County Fair started planning for this crisis several years ago, and as a result our fair will run for the next two years. After that … the doors will close.
Gone will not only be the Del Norte Fair — one of the highlights of the year for many residents and visitors — but also lost will be the fairgrounds itself. The property belongs to the state, and it will simply be allowed to go to seed. The dozens of groups, organizations and businesses that use the fairgrounds will be forced to find some other location — if possible.
That is why Measure F is so important. It would raise the local sales tax by one quarter of a percent. If you buy $100 of taxable items — which would not include groceries, by the way — the additional cost will be 25 cents. The tax will disappear after seven years. With this funding, the fair and the fairgrounds should be able to operate for up to two decades.
Local business leaders know the importance of the fair and the fairgrounds. Each year, almost $4 million is pumped into the economy because of the facility and all that goes on there. If the fair and the fairgrounds are allowed to close, the impact on the local economy will be devastating.
More support has come from individuals that traditionally see tax increases as something evil. First, Measure F makes good financial sense. And second, Del Norte County wants to keep what is truly ours.
With the strong early report, one fact has been lost: On a tax measure such as Measure F, two-thirds of voters must vote yes. And that is always a difficult hurdle to clear.
Thus, there is still so much to do and not much time to get it all done.
If you believe that without our fairgrounds Del Norte County’s already fragile economy will be dramatically hurt, please lend your voice to passing Measure F.
If you like blue ribbons, 4-H and FFA, carnival rides, health fairs, craft fairs, rodeos, concerts, Java Hut, Roller Derby, indoor tennis courts, demolition derbies, curly fries, quilt shows, equestrian competitions, Red Rover dog boarding and dough boys… please be part of our cause.
You can help by telling others how important the fair and the fairgrounds are to you and your family and to urge everyone to vote on Measure F.
The Del Norte County Fair and the Del Norte Fairgrounds … they are just too important to do without.
Randy Hatfield is CEO and general manager of the Del Norte County Fair.