Carson City will have a fair in 2015 and 2016, the Board of Supervisors decided Thursday, but a payment due sign hangs over future fairs.
Voting 4-1 with Supervisor Brad Bonkowski dissenting, the board decided to use the $32,000 left over from the 2014 Nevada Sesquicentennial Fair and sweeten the pot to $120,000 for fairs the next two years. But the successful motion by Supervisor John McKenna, which was seconded by Supervisor Jim Shirk, didn’t include city government absorbing the cost of $75,000 in seed money put out for the first-time effort.
There was ample agreement last summer’s first effort at Fuji Park and Fairgrounds was successful.
“It was beyond my greatest expectations,” said Senior Judge Robey Willis, the man who first suggested and then helped spearhead efforts to bring a fair to Carson City. He was among those testifying to thank the board and hoping for annual repeats in the future.
Willis was but one of several who showed up to shower all involved with praise. The July 30-Aug. 3 event, also known as the Nevada 150 Fair, even brought out two people at the beginning of the session for the open comment period due to commitments later in the day.
“It needs to grow,” said Ronni Hannaman, executive director of Carson City’s Chamber of Commerce, who pledged to help get more business sponsors for the next one. Robert Glenn, who along with Hannaman served on an ad hoc fair planning committee, said both the fair and the other facets of planning fell into place.
“When the idea came up for the fair, I was dubious,” said Glenn, a city resident more than a dozen years. He said the fair parking problem “was erased completely” with the help of Casino Fandango volunteering use of its parking lots and city government shuttling people on Jump Around Carson buses.
Deputy City Manager Marena Works, along with Susan Taylor, the fair manager, and Transportation Manager Patrick Pittenger provided the board a post-fair report. Works said income was $187,000 and outgo $155,000, accounting for the $32,000 left in the account as of Sept. 4. Works mentioned the fair’s various attractions.
“We had, hopefully, something for everybody,” she said. Works spread credit for the success around, including the fairgrounds and park in that assessment.
“The setting was phenomenal,” she said.
Praise came from every quarter and Bonkowski, though he voted against McKenna’s motion, made it clear he felt the same about the success. However, he said the seed money had been provided by the board with the explicit condition it be repaid by Nevada Day.
“I think we need a business plan,” Bonkowski said. “I have a hard time flipping on my decision” regarding the payback requirement.
Supervisor Karen Abowd called the fair’s success nearly “unbelievable” and suggested a five-year payback plan, Shirk wanted to go forward while keeping Works and Taylor in charge and Mayor Robert Crowell thanked fair supporters for their hard work and backing.
“There was a lot of trepidation about even putting our toe in the water,” Shirk said of early talks regarding whether to hold a state fair.
“It’s something we can build on,” said McKenna, who added he was making his motion “because this works.”