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MailTribune.com
  • Is this the county fair's last ride?

    The Expo must become self-sustaining or tough choices will have to be made
  • This year could be the last for the Jackson County Fair if The Expo fails to become self-sustaining after the first three months of the 2013-14 fiscal year, according to the county's budget document.
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  • This year could be the last for the Jackson County Fair if The Expo fails to become self-sustaining after the first three months of the 2013-14 fiscal year, according to the county's budget document.
    The Jackson County Budget Committee last week recommended a three-month budget of $760,610 for The Expo, but promised no loans to cover any shortfalls as it has in the past. The Expo still owes the county $200,000 in such loans over the past several years.
    "This may be the last year for the County Fair," the budget document reads.
    The committee provided $185,000 to The Expo for maintenance and repairs on county-owned buildings and promised to revisit The Expo's budget after three months. The budget still must be approved by the Jackson County commissioners.
    Expo officials say they are working hard to boost the number and size of its events, outsource concerts to minimize risk and make a harder push on marketing to prevent a shutdown.
    "It's a potential that it could happen, but no one's stated that will happen," County Administrator Danny Jordan said. "Do I think the fair's going to close down? Probably not."
    Expo Director Dave Koellermeier pointed out there are events planned nearly every weekend for the remainder of this fiscal year, including the Wild Rogue Pro Rodeo, one of The Expo's biggest. He said expenses have been reduced and operations streamlined, and officials continue to search for new sources of revenue.
    "I think we've honed this down to where we're going to make this work," he said.
    If receipts from the Jackson County Fair — by far The Expo's biggest event set for July 16-21 this year — prove profitable, the Board of Commissioners could approve a supplemental budget to continue Expo operations for the remaining nine months of the fiscal year. If not, The Expo could either submit an amended budget by cutting more expenses or finding additional revenue streams, or close down operations.
    "The budget committee was pretty adamant about getting that house in order," said Commissioner Chairman Don Skundrick.
    Deputy County Administrator Harvey Bragg said ticket sales from the fair, which typically cover half The Expo's expenses, have fallen short in recent years, requiring a loan from the county to cover operational costs.
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