I wound up at the Fair Board Meeting the other night. It was a big surprise - the results of the Fair Board meeting.
In years before I remember folks in the hippie community plotting about who they'd appoint to the Fair Board. You had to be registered as part of the Fair Association for one year before voting, so I didn't go to the meeting that year because I couldn't vote to fill that one seat of someone other than the old cowboy crowd that's held the Fair together all these years. Horses and their cowboys are a bygone era, and there's no money in them. The Fair is going broke, as we've all known for many years, and it's in need of one entire face lift. After all, what is that crazy logo, and didn't they already improve it in some way that they aborted in last year's Fair?
This year there was very little plotting to find a representative to bust the Board. It just happened.
The head of the Fairgrounds, Jim Brown, led the meeting and seemed open to new money making ideas about how to use the Fairgrounds. One thing led to another as one hippie after another straggled in after the main entrees had been removed from the serving table and everyone was done eating. It was a full house and the women from the Dragon House showed up and stood along the back wall because all the chairs were taken at all the tables. The place was packed. Captain Rainbow ate and stayed to comment and vote, and was asked by one Board member to be quiet (musta had some history there). Johnny Schmitt showed up late and sat silently.
The Board was asked to contact Sonoma County Fair Grounds and find out if they can get a budget, etc. The vote on folks in the room wanting to open the Fairgrounds to marijuana events was something like two against the idea, and the rest of the room for it. I'm guessing there were about 60 people present and maybe 58-2 in favor of pot.
I was way surprised by the vote for opening the Fairgrounds to new events so they don't have to close altogether. Fair Manager Jim Brown was open to ideas for a change, too. And two younger folks were voted onto the Fair Board: Sophia Bates and Derek Wyant.
Still no Latinos rep'd on the Board, or at the meeting.
One Board member resigned, Mr. Craig Titus. He wasn't angry about it. He just said it was time for him to step aside and let someone else take the Fairgrounds down the path. He was very graceful about it and was applauded.
Folks in the room were really acting very open and accepting. And mostly, very kind. Tim Bates finally said that he couldn't see why not approving marijuana events if it's legal and others are making money off events like it. Wendy Read defended herself when one of the old school women sitting at the back of the room said something about not wanting "people like that" as tourists in Boonville. Wendy said, "I'm people like that, and I'm sitting right here. We're here and we're not leaving..."
The Board had just announced the news that the World Music Festival has not yet signed a contract for the year 2020. (The organizer-financier of the festival fell ill with cancer last year, canceling weeks before the event, and promised he'd be returning this year.) I mentioned that they need to put more music festivals on at the Fairgrounds. The Board mentioned that they make alot of money off camping, so it'd pay to have long weekend events, with camping available. Not mentioned, is that with marijuana there, they could share a broader profit margin on events.
Manager Jim Brown also mentioned that the Fairgrounds also needs serious renovation, so it'd be good to come up with an event theme that is both useful and retains much of the beauty while adding good design taste.
The old little league field at the Fairgrounds is not in use. The horse barns weren't used this year because of liability concerns. Horses were trucked in for the Fair show and trucked out the same day. The horse barns are old and falling down. That entire end of the Fair grounds all the way over to PennyRoyal seems like it could be better utilized. Looks like there's plenty of land there.
But, I digress... The dinner was just great. I love ham and "scalped" potatoes, green beans, and the dessert table even had (Jeweler) Andy's award winning (County Fair) peanut brittle. I even had time to register on "the association" list so that I could vote. You could sign to be a member of the Fair Association until 7 pm.
I was just talking with Stephanie Frost, who sings with the Joe Blow Band, about all the great things that could be booked at the Fairgrounds as far as events are concerned. She listed off a bunch of event ideas:
Vintage car shows, tattoo expos, baby showers, quinceaneras, food festivals, community dances, workshops, Halloween party, school carnival, music festivals featuring: Zydeco Dance Bands/Food Festival, ukulele festival featuring local Ukaholics. It worked having the Mexican Dance on the last night of County Fair last year, so why not add the Mexican Rodeo with a popular band Sunday night at Fair? And, of course, marijuana oriented events including the Mendocino Cup.
It was a pretty good meeting. Not an easy job for the old board.
How much is entertainment going to be worth when the economy tanks? You have to advertise a year in advance in many cases for large events. It'll take three years to get rolling with any kind of an organizer or plan at all. It takes time for folks to follow new events.
Neil Darling Notes:
I was at the same Fairgrounds Board meeting as was Debra Keipp, but do not agree with what she says was decided. I believe that the membership vote was simply an advisory vote for the Board to pursue the possibility of opening the Fairgrounds to marijuana events by developing more information about the possible impacts of such events. Rather than continuing to hear everyone express their opinions as the meeting dragged on, I think almost everyone wanted factual information; for example, from the Sonoma Fairgrounds since they have actual experience. With facts, not opinions, an informed decision could then be made by the Fairgrounds Board. Even though few people at the meeting were willing to outright reject marijuana events, I think it is premature to conclude that there will be such events at the Fairgrounds. That decision has not yet been made.
I am sure a copy of the resolution which was passed would easily clarify this difference of opinion.
On a second minor point, Captain Rainbow was asked by the Board Chair to wait his turn to speak rather than immediately rebutting a point someone else had just made. This was simply procedural without the animus implied by Debra.