The Fair Board is asking for a tax levy on the county's property owners to help fund needed repairs and improvements, as well as make up for the reduction in state funding for county fairs.
Diane: What is the biggest problem the Fair Board faces?
Garry: The biggest problem is the debt we inherited, especially on the grandstand. We are making money at the fair, but it takes almost everything we make to go on retiring the debt so that leaves very little operating capital.
Diane: Can you disclose the amounts we are talking about?
Garry: When I took over the board, it was $275,000 and payments were not being made. Now, we have been making regular payments of $27,000 each year. So you can see that if you make $35,000 on the fair and pay out $27,000, it does not leave much money left to operate on. There are maintenance problems that need to be taken care of. It does not help that a few years ago the State took 33 percent of our funding away. Maintenance costs continue to increase, the cost of electricity is skyrocketing, the grandstand needs a new roof at an estimated $100,000 cost. There is just no money left for the needed upkeep.
Diane: Would I be safe in saying that 90 to 95 percent of the work done for the fair is done by volunteers?
Garry: Absolutely! If it wasn't for the volunteers helping, we would have had to close the gates several years ago...
Read the entire interview at the Marion Daily Online
More information can be found another article from earlier this month on TheSouthern.com.