Expo re-examines finances after Fair results

Attendance and revenue were down significantly at the Jackson County Fair, but the six-day event at the Expo grounds increased its profits over last year.

Despite that glimmer of good news, the county-owned Expo's financial health remains precarious as it prepares for more cutbacks while attempting to increase revenues.

"We're going to take a hard look at our situation," Expo Director Dave Koellermeier said Tuesday. "We're a smaller business than a year ago."

Attendance at the fair finished at about 78,000 for the six days, down from 85,850 in 2012, despite a reduction in ticket prices intended to attract more visitors.

Koellermeier said he's relieved the fair was held before the fires and smoke blew into the valley, which is a concern to officials in Douglas and Josephine counties, where preparations are under way for their August fairs.

The Jackson County Fair, held July 16-21, netted $148,000 this year compared with $96,000 last year

Revenue dropped dramatically, down to $476,000 from the $900,000 recorded in 2012. However, expenses dropped even more, totalling $327,000 compared with $804,000 last year.

The major difference for both revenues and expenses was a decision by Expo officials not to manage the fair week concerts. Last year, the fair produced five concerts. This year, outside promoters were responsible for the two concerts held during the fair.

Koellermeier said the Expo budget will be about $1.5 million in the current fiscal year, compared with $2 million in 2012-13, a 25-percent decrease.

He said the Expo recently booked Blue Oyster Cult for Sept. 11, which he said should boost revenues more than expected.

Jackson County officials have put the Expo on notice that it wants to end the practice of providing loans to help pay expenses for the fair.

Previously, the county has given loans of about $200,000, which have been paid back. However, the Expo has an outstanding loan of about $300,000 from the county that hasn't been paid back. The unpaid loan has alarmed county officials.

Commissioner Don Skundrick said the county Budget Committee decided it didn't want to provide any more loans to the Expo.

However, Skundrick said, some financial support could be agreed upon in the near future.

"It's too early in the process to say anything about that," he said.

Skundrick said the county will want to see a breakdown of the Expo's budget going forward before any decisions are made.

"We've been pretty generous in the past," he said.

Koellermeier said he hopes that he won't have to ask for the money, but couldn't rule the possibility out completely.

If he does ask for more money, Koellermeier said he will prepare a business plan showing where he will make cuts and provide options to generate more money.

As a cost-saving measure, he said he will consider closing down operations at the Expo on some weekdays in the winter months when there are few events planned.

In the long term, the Expo will have to find other revenue sources, Koellermeier said. More events at the Compton Arena are one possibility, he said.

He said the types of concerts at the amphitheater are also of concern.

For instance, the Snoop Dogg (also known as Snoop Lion) and Primus concerts in previous years were criticized by some Central Point neighbors because of their counterculture edge and vulgar language.

Some concerts, such as metal rock bands could be held in the indoor Compton Arena rather than at the amphitheater, he said.

He said the Expo is committed to putting on a fair in 2014, despite some of the worrisome trends and budget concerns.

"You go for it," said Koellermeier. "You have to."

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com.

Share This Story