Bakersfield

Coronavirus could force Kern Co. Fair to close for good

The coronavirus pandemic might spell the end for the Kern County Fair.

In an emergency meeting on Wednesday, the Kern County Fair Board of Directors voted to appeal in a letter to the county’s Board of Supervisors and the State of California for emergency funds.

The board said it currently only has enough money to make payroll through June. Without grant money – coupled with the losses from the COVID-19 pandemic – the fair could be forced to fold.

“We’re not talking about closing and re-opening at a subsequent date,” said board member David Torres. “We are talking about closing forever.”

In 2011, the state halted direct financial support to the fair, which board members blamed as one of the main factors in the fair’s financial issues.

With the state’s shelter-in-place order in place since mid-March, the Kern County Fair has missed out on the opportunity to host events that would usually generate money that would cover operating costs.

“We are very much in dire straits right now without the ability to support ourselves and create our own revenue,” said chairwoman Blodgie Rodriguez.

Board members discussed appealing to private parties for donations, but the board will need $3 million to continue operations if the 2020 fair is cancelled.

The board also discussed holding a swap meet to generate some income, but Rodriguez said county health officials told her that it would not be allowed because it would violate the state’s order.

“I’m not a big fan of a centralized area in Sacramento telling regional areas how to operate,” said board member Lucas Espericueta. “We should be able to make those decisions.”

So far, the board has not decided to cancel the fair. The fair is currently scheduled from Sep. 23 to Oct. 4.

Daniel Gligich
Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at [email protected]