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Fair board hopes more families step up to renovate buildings
Dan O'Connell is convinced that there are not many people who live in Colusa County who haven't been to the summer fair and left with a smile.
He believes the tradition trails back generations.
Now, the Colusa County Fair Board director and the other board members are hoping to tap into those fond memories and pride to generate funding for facility repairs and maintenance.
"The generosity in Colusa County is amazing," O'Connell said recently about the new Colusa County Community Center.
It was built on the fairgrounds with about $300,000 in cash, material and labor donations. No public monies were used.
"Zero, not $1," O'Connell said.
For Chief Executive Officer Susan Clark, the building stands as a symbol of hope for what else can be accomplished at the aging fairgrounds.
"I am hoping he (O'Connell) opened up the door for other opportunities," Clark said.
Adding to the optimism is the Etchepare family stepping up to pay for the cost of a new roof and other repairs to the building that wears their name.
The building has been taking on water, which officials thought was coming up from under the flooring.
Fair officials thought they had fixed the problem, only for it to return during the holiday fair. The water destroyed some brochures and other property, Clark said.
That's when it was determined to be a roofing issue — and Allen Etchepare stepped up.
Clark is hoping other families who have ties to the fairgrounds facilities will want to do the same, but even if not, she sees opportunities for other families, individuals and even businesses and organizations to kind of adopt a building.
Festival Hall, for example, could carry a corporate moniker.
Less sexy, of course, but none less critical are the plumbing issues the faigrounds face, but even there Clark believes there are ways to make it all work with the right sponsorships.
The topic is getting a bit more attention because of next week's Farm Show, which brings close to 40,000 visitors through the gates over its three-day run.
The event, in its 47th year, generates about $240,000 in gross revenues. The net profit represents about one-third of the fairgrounds operating budget.
That, the holiday fair and building rentals basically allows the fairgrounds to keep the fair going each summer.
The repairs and upkeep on facilites that are 60 years old or more does not fit into that budget.
Officials do believe the new Community Center will generate some additional revenue for the fairgrounds, but exactly how much is uncertain.
In addition to weddings, birthdays and other events, Clark said the kitchen can be rented out on a daily basis to small caterers who might not have access to such a facility.
"... And then it becomes more than a benefit. I becomes a service," Clark said.
Also being discussed is creating a new foundation to operate the fair, and possibly as a finance arm for the facilities.
Details on what that might entail were not available.