The Veterans of Foreign Wars, Active 20-30 Club of Turlock and the FACT Club (Families Activities Community Turlock) organizations, which support youth and veterans, will have to find news ways to make large portions of their budgets thanks to a controversial decision by the Stanislaus County Fair.
The Stanislaus County Fair Board and CEO Chris Borovansky are taking heat after it was learned they had made the decision to terminate year-to-year alcohol sale profit agreements with the three non-profit organizations — all of which depend on the fair to make up large portions of their annual budgets to serve the community of Turlock.
Despite another year of increased attendance and profits, Borovansky says the Fair needs to “create its own revenue stream to keep the doors open.”
Five years ago the State of California cut funding to county fairs throughout the state and the Stanislaus County Fair has lost $250,000 from its budget every year since.
“It’s important to note that we are a year-round agency and we have major infrastructure problems,” said Borovansky. “We have buildings that are 75 years old, flooding problems and we are woefully underpowered. We could put $4 million into infrastructure projects and you wouldn’t even notice. Our main goal is to keep the doors open and to create a revenue stream to survive.”
He went on to say that the Fair is holding its own, but it relied on that $250,000 a year from the state. The Fair hopes to gain between $75,000 to $100,000 of that state money back by selling their own alcohol — even if they have to hire employees to sell it.
Oddly, however, the board elected to continue alcohol sales agreements with Rotary, Kiwanis, American Legion and VFW Auxiliary.
“It makes me wonder why we were chosen (to be cut),” said 20-30 Club Vice President Jessica Irish.
Borovansky says the three non-profits were selected for “a variety of reasons including which stands really made sense.” He did not elaborate further.
“It was an agonizing decision,” he said. “The board is made up of members of the community of Turlock who live and work here and grew up here. It was a difficult decision.”
While the board agonizes over the decision, the 20-30 Club, which year in and year out, through Fair profits, raises about half of its budget to clothe less fortunate children in Turlock through its annual shopping spree, will find alternative fundraising efforts.
“We’ve just accepted it, we are confident we can find other ways to raise money, its just disappointing this happened because the main beneficiary is the children (in the shoppping spree),” said Irish. “It brings smiles to their faces and helps keep them warm during the winter months.”
“We support children as well, its not like we are turning this over to a private company,” said Borovansky. “It was a difficult decision and we knew we would take heat on it. We need to keep the doors open, if we don’t keep the doors open, none of the non-profits will make any money for the fair.”
Borovansky indicated that county and state fairs are dying activities in the Valley and even across the country.
“This is not if, it’s when,” he said. “Look at Michigan, Nevada and Virginia — they’ve all lost their state fairs. Look at Stockton — the Stockton Asparugus Festival and the San Joaquin County Fair gone… no more fairs there.”
Borovansky says the Fair and VFW will be meeting in the coming weeks to determine an alternative method of creating a fundraising opportunity for them.