BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — It was decided just earlier this month that the Kern County Fair would not be happening in 2021. The fair’s board voting to postpone the event until 2022. But it appears the discussions aren’t over yet.
Covering Kern County
Kern County Fair Board voted to postpone 2021 KC Fair to 2022
Organizers didn't think a 2021 fair was possible because the fairgrounds are being used as a mass vaccination site. But Tuesday the county made it clear that the fair and the vaccination site could coexist. Kern County Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop announced that the county would be open to the idea of helping bring back the Kern County staple in 2021.
“If they decide to do it we will accommodate with our operations out there,” said Alsop. “The county is not standing in their way. At no time have we told them not to have the fair. That’s their decision.”
Alsop’s words came as news to the Kern County Fair Board of Directors with Chairwoman Blodgie Rodriguez saying the decision to postpone the fair was a matter of space because the fairgrounds are the home of Kern Public Health’s mass vaccination site. Now that it appears space will open up so does the possibility for a fair.
“The county has decided to relocate by September 1st,” said Rodriguez. “It’ll be a matter of our staff putting together what is feasible and what’s not, and then us having that discussion as a board.”
The Kern County Fair says its operating revenue in 2020 -- including revenue from special drive-thru food events and from leasing the fairgrounds to the county for its mass vaccination site totaled about $2.4 million.
Covering Kern County
What did postponing the fair cost Kern County?
Without a fair, this year officials estimate the fairground’s revenue would be about $1.6 million. Much of it coming from leasing costs of the Kern Public Health mass vaccination and the Kern County swap meet. With a fair, the board has estimated revenues of about $6.6 million.
The board has called a special meeting that will take place on Friday, June 4th to discuss options for organizing a potential fair this year. COVID guidelines will be one of many hurdles that will be discussed.
“Any event that has over 5,000 people, they have to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test,” explained Rodriguez.
“We will work with them during that time to continue to provide free testing for the fairgoers, free vaccinations for the fairgoers,” said Alsop.
And health guidelines aren’t the only challenge -- time is too.
“Typically a fair takes 12 months to plan. And they’ll have to not only plan but pull it off in 3,” said Rodriguez.
The fair did have to lay off a significant portion of their staff in order to stay afloat during the shutdowns. But they say one good thing that came out of the shutdown, is the county upgraded their wifi and improved their parking lots among other things in order to host the vaccination site.
When asked if holding a fair would be more profitable than the income from the vaccination site, the fair said that remains to be seen. It’s all dependent on what’s feasible to plan in the next three months, and how many people feel comfortable attending the fair.