Planting a $75,000 seed, Carson City’s Board of Supervisors on Thursday cleared the way to have a Nevada Sesquicentennial Fair next year at Fuji Park.
Acting unanimously on a recommendation stemming from an idea in a Nevada Appeal letter to the editor that appeared in January, the board decided to front the seed money for a fair slated for July 30 to Aug. 3, but also require it be repaid to the general fund afterward. Discussion of repayment options included fair profits, if there are any, redevelopment revenues or lodging tax revenues of the city Convention & Visitors Bureau.
“I have never been involved in anything that has this kind of enthusiasm driving it,” said Senior Judge Robey Willis, who wrote the January letter and was the first to testify Thursday after a staff presentation by Deputy City Manager Marena Works.
Works, who was questioned pointedly about preliminary plans fashioned by an ad hoc citizens group she headed, said the fair is a gamble but could bear fruit benefiting Carson City next year and longer term.
Willis suggested in his letter to the editor that Carson City hold a state fair. He is sticking with that, saying the sesquicentennial fair idea to go with the Nevada 150 celebration would provide the impetus to get there.
“We’ve got to start small and then we can build from there,” he said.
Scott Carey, manager of events and community relations for Nevada 150 at the state Department of Tourism & Cultural Affairs, was on hand to lend support. He said the fair “fits our criteria” to be designated a signature event as part of the state’s celebration. It could be included in marketing of Nevada 150, which begins this month and lasts until Nevada Day 2014.
Supervisors wanted more facts and a budget before committing, but Works and others said it takes time, the hiring of a manager and commitments to others before such details can gel. Works said about $50,000 of the seed money would go to get that manager under contract. She also said her committee would help in the search, but city staffers would make the selection.
Gary Dierks of D and M Consulting LLC, who served on the community panel Works headed, said he has experience involving the defunct state fair in Reno and over many years with the rodeo there. He backed up what Works told the board.
“We need to get a head start on our vendors,” he said, adding commitments are needed because the special event season involved is short and gets crowded.
McKenna also suggested someone other than the city take the lead, bypassing any future necessity for board decisions, and the city’s Convention & Visitor’s Bureau was among possibilities discussed. Jonathan Boulware of the Gold Dust West Hotel & Casino, who chairs the bureau’s board, said that could be discussed at the next CCCV&B board meeting Oct. 14.
Supervisor Karen Abowd, who made the successful motion by adding repayment provisions and the deadline, earlier said of the fair that it is “time for Carson City to shine. I think it’s vital.” The reimbursement addendum and a deadline of Nevada Day 2014 were suggested by supervisors John McKenna and Brad Bonkowski.