Community donations have helped

While the Calaveras County Fairgrounds might be financially healthier than it has been in years, that doesn’t mean anyone at Frogtown is sitting on their laurels. Next week, the fair board will dive into its future and look to prioritize maintenance issues.

Fairgrounds CEO Laurie Giannini said that in an odd way the elimination of state funding that was once derived from parimutuel betting conducted in California might have been the best thing for the Calaveras County Fair because it made the Calaveras community take ownership of the annual May event.

“Last year was a transition year,” she said. “Board President Bob Trinchero wants to look at what we want over the next three years.

“Community members have made contributions that were earmarked for certain items,” Giannini said. “It’s really nice because people are really attached to certain parts of the fair.”

Through the Friends of the Fair nonprofit that assists the 39th District Agricultural Association board of directors with facilities improvements, those funds can be used for specific purposes and to support certain events that take place during each fair. The Friends of the Fair recently reroofed the Floriculture Building. It also purchased equipment used as other events are held at the fairgrounds since the Friends now manages alcohol sales at Frogtown. Some improvements were also made to the brewery building near the Floriculture space.

A new sound system for the arena was purchased last year, thanks to a generous community member who targeted a donation to the arena.

“We’re trying to be deliberate with planning” and facilities, Giannini said.

At the fair board’s upcoming meeting – scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13, inside the Frogeteria at the fairgrounds – Giannini has charged fair directors with bringing three new potential partners each to the table. She said possible partners might be potential sponsors of the 2013 Calaveras County Fair & Jumping Frog Jubilee – to be held from May 16 to 19 – or they might be entities that may be interested in using space at Frogtown during or after the fair.

Directors will also compare notes on what they believe are the most pressing maintenance issues at Frogtown. Items like possibly paving more of the parking lots at the fairgrounds may come up, Giannini said. Directors will then prioritize those projects and begin discussing them with Friends of the Fair officers to see which might be accomplished.

The fairgrounds’ accounts actually have some money in them, Giannini said, which hasn’t happened in February for quite some time. She added that those funds demonstrate how dedicated the community is to the fair and all it means to the county.

“When people heard that we lost our (state) funding,” they felt that something that was theirs was threatened, she said. “It’s the community that makes the fair happen.”

“It’s been a blessed journey,” Giannini said of last year’s fair. “It’s by no means easy, but we are in better shape than we have been for 10 years.”

The fair board will also examine the details of the contract with California Carnival Co., which will supply the midway games, food and rides at the 2013 county fair. A board committee approved the proposal for the new carnival operator last month.

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