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San Juan County Fair held its own in 2010, but fairgrounds faces a $45,000 shortfall in 2011

The 2010 San Juan County Fair — Zucchini 500 and all — was a success, officials say. But the fairgrounds faces a budgetary shortfall of roughly $45,000 in 2011, partly because of a decrease in lodging tax revenues it receives.  - Scott Rasmussen / August 2010
The 2010 San Juan County Fair — Zucchini 500 and all — was a success, officials say. But the fairgrounds faces a budgetary shortfall of roughly $45,000 in 2011, partly because of a decrease in lodging tax revenues it receives.
— image credit: Scott Rasmussen / August 2010

The 2010 San Juan County Fair held its own in terms of attendance.

Roughly 160 fewer people came through the gates over the four-day run of this year's edition of the annual event compared to a year ago.

Not bad in tough economic times.

Still, according to Fair and Events Manager Rev Shannon, the fair's financial forecast — or, more specifically, the forecast for the fairgrounds itself — remains cloudy at best.

Though the fair has proven to be a "self-sustaining" event, according to Parks, Recreation and Fair Department Director Dona Wuthnow, the year-round operation of the fairgrounds faces a budgetary shortfall of roughly $45,000 in 2011. The fairgrounds is slated to receive $25,000 less in lodging tax funds next year than it has in each of the past two.

Wuthnow said developing a master plan for the fairgrounds, as required under its recently-approved overlay district, is expected to cost up to $30,000. She said the department can pursue new revenue-generating opportunities once that master plan is in place.

"If the fairgrounds had received the $60,000 requested, we would've been pretty close to covering that $45,000 gap," she said.

The amount of lodging tax revenue collected in 2010 may exceed predictions by the end of the year, according to Auditor Milene Henley. Whether any of the overflow is directed toward the fairgrounds in 2011 remains to be seen.

As for the 2010 fair, a recap of its financial results, which Shannon and Wuthnow presented to the County Council Oct. 19, shows a slight dip in income — $165,000, down from the $170,000 collected in 2009 — despite its on-par attendance.

Shannon said more tickets were sold at this year's fair than in the past, but a reduction in ticket prices for children took a bite out of the would-be revenue. The event also incurred roughly $10,000 in unanticipated expenses.

According to Shannon, the department spent roughly $9,000 more on labor largely because there were fewer people available on the Sheriff Department's work crew than in the past. The fair also incurred $1,000 in unexpected costs for trash disposal since the county-run solid waste transfer station on San Juan Island was not accepting large containers of garbage at that time.

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