Our hearts go out to the people of San Diego and the team at the county fairgrounds. With the wildfires burning rapidly through the county, more than 500 horses have already been evacuated to the Del Mar Fairgrounds along with sheep and llamas. Their county fair is only a couple of weeks away and the staff at the San Diego fairgrounds has said no one will be turned away.
Fairgrounds have a history of taking in people, pets and livestock when there is a disaster, whether it is a fire, flood or earthquake. Our fairgrounds and 75 others in the state are always ready to serve as a sanctuary or a command center for emergency personnel such and firefighters, Red Cross volunteers, police, paramedics and other public safety officials.
This year, many of our fairgrounds will be put to the test. With California in the worst drought on record, it has become a virtual tinderbox. Since all fairs in California gave up 100 percent of our state support in 2011 at the height of the economic crisis, many are struggling to maintain their infrastructure. Several of the fairgrounds in our immediate area have had to lay off staff and work with part-time CEOs in order to make ends meet.
We are blessed to have leaders in our community who recognize the value of our fairgrounds. I have been especially impressed with our local and state elected officials who grasp the quiet, but vital role fairgrounds play in our community.
In just the last few weeks, state Sen. Lois Wolk has graciously stepped forward in support of an effort to restore critical funding to repair the aging infrastructure at California fairgrounds, and a bipartisan group of 31 other California legislators are making it a priority to invest in repairing and upgrading severely neglected infrastructure. From plumbing and electrical projects to repairs of grandstands and water conservation projects, there is no shortage of fairground needs.
And, with the governor’s recent good news about the surplus of state funds, serious consideration should now be given to repairing infrastructure at California’s network of fairgrounds.
We are proud to serve this community and to offer one of the last remaining free gates. We made a lot of painful sacrifices during the last three years, but want to continue to provide clean, safe, family-friendly entertainment for our community. Let’s save our fairs.
CEO, Yolo County Fairgrounds, Woodland