2010 funding will help effort to make the fair a sustainable, public-private success in future years
StoryMetropolitan King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn wants King County to find funding in the 2010 budget to build upon the success of the 2009 King County Fair, the oldest county fair west of the Mississippi.
“The success of the 2009 fair shows that this model works and the Task Force has worked hard to find lasting solutions to rebuild the fair,” said Dunn. “Refusing to fund the fair this year would undercut the work of the Task Force and all of the progress made this year.”
The King County Fair is a regional draw for organizations such as 4-H, Future Farmers of America and the equestrian community. As a result of declining revenues and attendance over the past decade and the need to close a budget shortfall in the 2009 King County budget, funding for the fair was cut from the 2009 Executive Proposed Budget. The funding is absent from the 2010 Executive Proposed Budget as well.
Dunn successfully fought for funding in the 2009 budget and the creation of the King County Fair Task Force. The task force was commissioned to analyze fair operations and explore ways to attract the exhibits, programs and entertainment that would increase attendance and revenue at the fair. Attendance in 2009 was double the number of fairgoers in 2008.
Among the recommendations of the task force:
• Continuation of the fair at the Enumclaw Expo Center as a county fair, rather than a community fair or other type of agricultural fair authorized under state law.
• Operation of the fair by the city of Enumclaw under a long-term contract with King County that comes with ongoing financial support from the County for fair operations.
• Pursuit of significant and stable funding from:
o the State of Washington, through its support of county agricultural fairs;
o King County, consistent with its mission to support agriculture, rural communities and county residents in general; and
o the city of Enumclaw, as the primary beneficiary of the local and regional economic development that will come from large scale fair attendance.
• Formation of an active “Friends of the Fair” volunteer group to help secure sponsorships and financial participation , particularly from area businesses, to make the fair less dependent on public funding; to focus efforts in marketing and advertising; and to potentially manage and operate the fair.
• Improvement of fair attractions and attendance through traditional carnival rides, the traditional Critter Crowning competition, local food vendors, a farmer’s market, more aggressive advertising of open class competitions, and encouragement of all cities in King County to participate in some way.
“At the end of the day this is about more than a fair,” said Dunn “It's about supporting our rural communities, preserving that proud 146-year legacy, and keeping the door open to a thriving future for agriculture in King County.”