26-SUN-Howard

Colusa County Fair maintenance person Doyle Shippelhoute (left) and Fair CEO Jonathan Howard (right) work on setting up for the 2nd annual Haunted Paintball Hayride which opens September 30.

Jonathan Howard has had a busy tenure as the Colusa County Fairgrounds CEO.

With Nov. 1 marking two years on the job, Howard has worked to create more fall events to bring the community together at the fairgrounds.

Howard and his staff have been so busy piling high the hay bales and pumpkins, they haven't had a day off in 21 days.

"Disneyland needs to shut down some days, right?" Howard laughed.

For 25 years, Howard worked as a wedding planner in Chico and San Diego; marketing and promotions for various radio stations; and marketing for Colusa Casino. He said he helped get the Thursday night farmers market up and running, as well as the Lifestyle Expo (that no longer runs).

Howard said his passion for bringing the community together comes from fond childhood memories at the faigrounds.

"As a kid, I was at the fairgrounds at least once a month," he said. He said he remembers carving pumpkins and bobbing for apples at school in anticipation for Halloween. "It seems like it's kinda lost [now]."

This year marked the second year not only of Howard on the job, but of the popular Pumpkin Village and Haunted Paintball Hayride, which has seen visitors from Sutter, Yuba City, Orland, Gridley and Meridian. New this year is the Community Haunted Houses, which run through Halloween.

"I want to make this a spot where all the community events happen," he said.

With so many weekend events happening at once, and while planning for the upcoming Holiday Gift Faire and Craft Show (Nov. 19 and 20), Howard said it's much like his other jobs.

"There's a lot of little pieces," he said. "It's like a wedding-- it's not just the cake."

As far as inspiration, there's plenty of that to go around. Howard said the fairgrounds committee has been supportive of allowing him a creative freedom.

"Ideas come out a lot; not all of them are great," Howard said, "but they believe in what I'm trying to do."

Though deferred maintenance on almost all of the buildings on the 55-acre parcel adds to a growing fundraisers to-do list, Howard said he believes he is doing well in completing his initial goal when hired.

"[My goal was] to bring back the community to the fairgrounds and I think we've started to do that," Howard said. "It's not reinventing the wheel, but making it my own."

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