Calaveras Enterprise

Friends vote to take over fair

In a unanimous vote Wednesday evening, the Friends of the Fair board of directors voted to assume responsibility for the operations of the Calaveras County Fairgrounds and Jumping Frog Jubilee, starting Jan. 1.

The board carefully weighed the decision for more than two hours and heard from each board member individually before voting took place. Many board members expressed serious concerns, which stemmed from the way the existing fair board has been operating the fair – not the least of which was starting next year with nothing in the coffers.

The collective sentiment of saving the fair eventually prevailed over doubts, as board members agreed to address concerns as they became necessary down the road.

“I’m very optimistic. It looks like a very large responsibility,” said Firman Brown, board president. “The Friends started with zero three years, and was successful. It looks like we’re going to be starting with zero on Jan. 1. We’ve done it before and we can do it again, but only with the support of the community.”

“If we don’t do this, there’s no fair in 2012,” said Leslie Davis, board secretary. “That’s unconscionable to me. This is scary, but exciting at the same time. If you don’t take risks you don’t have a success. My answer is ‘yes, we need to do this.’”

“We need to pull together,” said Tim Folendorf, board member. “I think there’s going to be some things that we’ll find that will be good and bad. I think we’ve got to try and make it work. If it doesn’t work after June 30, then it’s over. But we’ve got to try.”

During the course of the meeting, CEO of the Calaveras County Fairgrounds and Jumping Frog Jubilee, Ray Malerbi, took some heat about the accounting practices, or lack thereof, that the fair has been using for many years.

“We don’t have anyone on staff who is well-versed in basic bookkeeping, much less accounting,” Malerbi said in response to criticisms. “Unfortunately, we have not really done a good job.”

Board member Jerri Mills said she was “appalled” at the accounting, and fellow board member Davis agreed.

“I can’t stand your accounting,” Davis firmly told Malerbi. “… I know that these books are not normal – not normal for a business or a government agency.”

Despite a series of unanswered questions, the board agreed to take over the fair and make a commitment to the community to do its best to make the 2012 fair a success.

After the vote, Firman said, “That’s a nice vote of confidence for the fair and Friends of the Fair.”

To read the full story, see edition of the Calaveras Enterprise.

Contact Joel Metzger at

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