Decision time came Wednesday morning, Dec. 18, and to no one’s surprise, the fair board voted unanimously not to have a county fair in 2014, with the goal of having one with a revised format beginning the next year.
“Sure it was a tough decision, but it was the right decision,” Martin said Wednesday after the board meeting. “We don’t have the money to pay upfront costs for a fair next June, and we need time to rebrand and reformulate the fair.”
The fair has about $44,000 left in its bank account, she reported, and costs to open the gates for a 2014 fair would be at least $250,000.
Although there will be no fair in the traditional sense, 4-H and FFA livestock judging and auction will take place in June, the dates the fair returned to this year.
The junior livestock show — possibly five days long —will be operated on the fairgrounds by a new committee, the San Joaquin Junior Livestock Committee, composed of FFA and 4-H leaders and supporters.
“The junior livestock judging and sale should have greater public visibility next year with the plans being considered by the committee,” Martin said. “And there will be a greater opportunity to generate more sponsorships from the ag community.”
The committee will begin meeting in January to develop definite plans. An increased number of youth mechanical and horticulture displays is a possibility being considered, said Martin, who recently ended her tenure as board president. She continues as a board member.
In addition to the junior livestock show, the annual thoroughbred horse racing will continue in September, the board has decided.
Less revenue from racing and a loss of state support combined last year with a sharp drop in attendance to push the fair further into the red. That stark financial reality prompted the board to launch a full assessment of the fair’s future, starting with a major public meeting Sept. 23.
At that time, those in attendance were divided into committees to come up with possible solutions. The committees are continuing to meet.
“We want the public involved,” Martin said. “We won’t have the same kind of fair in the future, but I feel certain we will have a fair that is self sustaining. And that’s why we need time to regroup, reappraise the fair, come up with new concepts and then move forward.”
The fairgrounds, in southwest Stockton, will continue to host a number of special events, satellite wagering and rentals.
• Contact Sam Matthews at 830-4234 or firstname.lastname@example.org.