No Fair?

I have not followed the discussions surrounding the proposed Orange County Fair very closely and hope that  the OP community can help me to understand why the County Commission was not in favor of it.  Especially since 3 of the "no" votes came form commissioners I am accustomed to agreeing with.

As I understand the issues, the primary concern was that the price tag of $189 K resprsented too big of a financial risk.  What I have been trying to figure out is what would be an acceptable return on an event like this?  The simpest answer, I guess, would be if the Fair broke even, spend $189 K, bring in $189 K.  However, I think you could make some valid arguments that receipts of less than $189 K would be acceptable since people coming to the Fair would patronize other Orange County businesses.  Another reasonable argument that reciepts of less than $189 K would be acceptable is that some amount of short fall could be considered a reasonable expense in marketing Orange County.   I suppose that the risk of a shortfall would be greatest in year 1.

Let's also consider that as time passes, the Fair could become profitable on a stand-alone basis.

A persistent theme in Orange County discussions is the need for more economic activity and economic growth.  While the Fair itself would only last for a few days, it would generate economic activity for many months and could result in follow-on investments that we can't yet envision.  This seems to me to a creative approach to driving some economic activity and, thus,  worth tolerating some financial risk.  Plus it would be fun.

What am I missing?

 (Note:  The title for this blog post should be credited to Mark Chilton's facebook page with it's post "No Fair? No fair."  Thanks for the inspiration Mark.)

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Total votes: 19

1 Comment

Mark Marcoplos's picture

Quick thoughts

1) Excellent point about considering a minor shortfall to be an economic development investment.2) The commissioners asked their staff to study the potential economics of a fair which they did. Some commissioners, particlularly Earl McKee, heard the results of their work and just flat-out said they didn't believe it. No supporting facts, just an opinion masquerading as having some basis in reality.3) The public was not involved enough. The prelimninary work on the fair was done almost entirely by county staff. There should have been a significant public citizen component to the working group. In the end, there were very few citizens in the loop who could speak to the many exciting positive aspects of a fair. 4) To my knowledge there was no information presented about the economics of specific successful fairs around the country.5) The BOCC seemed to be  generally collectively tired and out-of-synch. From McKee's cranky scolding of his fellow commissioners for them wanting a second vote on another way to deal with the fair proposal to the general lack of any discussion which reflected the creative, celebratory, educational, & just plain fun aspects of a fair.