San Juan County Fairgrounds master plan update begins

San Juan County Fairgrounds master plan update begins

Islanders are being asked how they envision the San Juan County Fairground’s future, as well as what projects to prioritize, so county parks and fair staff can update their master plan.

“We have to update the master plan every six years,” said Jennifer Allen, San Juan County Fairgrounds and events manager. She added that the last time the plan was updated was in 2012.

Staff was available on July 13 at both Market Place from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. in Friday Harbor and the Orcas Island Market in Eastsound from 5-7 p.m., and July 14 at the Lopez Village Market from 10:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m. in an attempt to reach out to locals for their thoughts.

A survey is available at for those who missed the pop-up events. Information will also be available at the fair.

“We purposefully wanted to overlap with the fair, Aug. 15-18, since we have people’s attention,” Allen explained.

Updating the plan starts with identifying existing conditions of the grounds and buildings, as well as taking inventory of what facilities are available, what programs are already in place, and what historical and cultural resources the fairgrounds provide. The community is then asked to participate in assessing a vision for the future. It is vital for fair staff to hear from the community to meet the needs of the county. The last steps are creating a draft, and finalizing the plan. Suggestions for the 2012 plan included building a catering and commercial kitchen and storage for the Marie Boe building, improving the arena, adding a roof structure and announcer stand and creating gravel pathways throughout the grounds.

“The process is in its very first stages,” said Allen, noting that staff are hoping to complete a draft plan by fall.

A major focus of the 2018 master plan will be to ensure the facility is economically viable all year. Since 2012, fairground data show that RV camping and building rentals have increased. Events such as “Drive-In at the Fairgrounds” movie nights occur throughout the year, keeping the facility utilized. The fair’s new plan aims to continue these trends.

“We want people to get used to thinking of the facility as being a year-round venue,” Allen said.

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