County Expo on the road to self-sufficiency

CENTRAL POINT — The Jackson County Expo will be able to finish out the remaining nine months of the 2013-14 fiscal year, the Board of Commissioners has decided.

The approval came after Expo officials whittled their budget down by reducing employee hours and days the facility will be open during winter months.

"Everybody will have to make some adjustments," said Expo Director Dave Koellermeier.

The board approved the fair's $711,987 budget for the final nine months Wednesday. The total budget for the year, which ends in June, is $1.42 million, down from $2 million in 2012-13.

The county's budget committee originally OK'd a quarterly budget of $710,732 during April hearings, saying the remaining nine months would be approved if the fair brought in adequate revenues during the first three months.

Exactly what days and hours will be cut is still being worked out, but officials said most likely will occur during the November and December months when fewer events are planned. Current contracts will remain staffed at full levels.

"It's kind of a fluid thing," said fair board president Chris Smith. "We'll make adjustments on the amount of revenue we bring in. We'll get to November and see where we are. The planning process is always ongoing."

The fair, the Expo's main source of funding for the year, saw a drop in attendance and revenues during its six-day stint in July. But fair officials said they were still able to see a boost in profits because of a significant reduction in expenses. Revenue dropped by almost half — $476,000 in 2013 compared to 2012's $900,000 — but expenses also dropped from $804,000 to $327,000. This was largely due to the Expo using outside promoters at the fair's two concerts.

Fair officials are confident they can make it work. Koellermeier said the Expo is going after $200,000 in sponsorships. Officials said this past weekend's Harvest Festival, which boasted more than 60 microbrews from around Oregon and Northern California and free admission, was a success, though exact attendance numbers are still being worked out.

About $300,000 in loan debt remains unpaid, but fair officials said they won't be asking for additional loan help.

"I want to make sure we can stand on our own," Smith said. "We can no longer use any general fund money. That's the parameters in which we have to operate."

Commissioner John Rachor said he is confident The Expo can be a self-sustaining operation.

"I am or we wouldn't have approved this," Rachor said of the supplemental budget. "We've kind of given them their marching orders. We said, 'We will approve this, but you have to do the things you say.' The ball's in their court now."

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at

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