County to dismantle fair commission Nonprofit organization now runs event

Steven King/Dispatch file

FLORENCE –– As part of a plan it set in motion in 2010, the Pinal County Board of Supervisors has taken another step to move away from direct oversight of the county fair.

At a work session Wednesday, the board gave direction to staff to dismantle the Pinal County Fair Commission, which was created in 2011 to oversee the transition of the fair’s control from county staff to a nonprofit organization that reports back to the county. A formal vote will be taken at a future regular session of the Board of Supervisors to complete the process of ending the fair commission.

The goal of the plan to move the fair to nonprofit control a few years ago was to have it become self-sustaining, meaning no taxpayer dollars would be needed to host the annual event. 

Supervisor Steve Miller, R-Casa Grande, asked Wednesday what progress had been made toward that end. 

“Since 2011 the number of improvements that have gone on have been a lot more than what would have been had we still been managing it on our own,” answered Director of Open Space and Trails Kent Taylor, who had the responsibility of managing the fairgrounds for a year in 2008 before the transition.

From a financial perspective, the county budgeted more than $500,000 for fair expenditures in fiscal year 2011, but after that, only a total of $200,000 was spent in fiscal years 2012 and 2013.

The decision to get rid of the commission, especially in light of the agreement with the nonprofit Central Arizona Fair Association, which has reporting obligations to the county as part of its contract, was an easy one.

“There’s no reason to have a duplication of two committees doing the same thing, with one doing all the work and the other not doing anything,” Miller said.

CAFA Executive Director Karen Searle said any major decisions on changes to the fairgrounds would go back to the Board of Supervisors even without the fair commission.

“It’s the county’s property and we love it and respect that,” she said.


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