Fairgrounds CEO reports on fall fest

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Fairgrounds CEO reports on fall festWyllie Hayman, with a basket from his livestock entry, sells his rabbit meat pen for $1,000 at Saturday’s Junior Livestock Auction. — Photo by Kelly Ann Cosner

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The three-day festival last weekend at Desert Empire Fairgrounds, dubbed by CEO Chip Holloway as “The Best Little Fair in California,” was overall a positive experience, he said.

“As all the reviews come in, it seems we had a great fair from the standpoint of those who attended,” he said. “Of course the weather is always the biggest factor, and we couldn’t have gotten much better.”

He said that while all the bands attracted crowds, local band the Sheleighlys turned out to be an especially great draw.

Overall, attendance was up about 10 percent from last year, he said, with carnival numbers growing by 25 percent.

Another attraction he credited with helping build the audience was the newly reestablished Demolition Derby.

“Sunday night’s Demo Derby was a resounding success, and we have a great foundation to build upon to make it an annual fair event again,” he said.

The kids’ section, with free bounce houses, games and treats, was another big hit. The Junior Livestock Auction, another success, drew a packed house for the main event.

“The best comment I heard was ‘There are things going on everywhere,’ which is always my goal,” said Holloway.

State-sanctioned fair funding and fee structures have undergone drastic changes in the last decade, forcing regional fairs to find alternative ways to sustain themselves.

“While we continue to move in the right direction, I remain frustrated at the lack of community support for this fair,” said Holloway. “In relation to other fairs and communities our size, we remain woefully low in comparable attendance numbers.

“I understand demographics have changed, and some gave up on this fair years ago; however, this is a community event that needs and deserves community support.”

The fair is the biggest revenue generator for the facility, and provides income to fund maintenance and improvements that benefit other perennial tenants.

The staff puts month of work into the planning and execution, he said, and only he and one other had ever been involved in a fair before.

He thanked the staff, as well as the sponsors and volunteers, for all the work they put in.

“All in all, we remain positive and excited for 2019,” said Holloway. “A big thanks to all who attended, and I encourage them to spread the word as we will always strive to be ‘The Best Little Fair in California.’”

Story First Published: 2018-10-26