MENLO — The 124th Pacific County Fair was all but canceled due to the covid-19 pandemic and the county’s concerns for citizen safety. In theory, 2021 marks the milestone of the 125th fair, but the year is already looking tough on the annual tradition.
Budget cut in nearly half
Last year Pacific County Fair Manager Bill Monohon had a relatively hefty $120,407 budget for the fair and was only able to use a fraction of the funds. At the end of the year, the money left over was absorbed back into the county’s general fund. Making matters worse, because the county didn’t hold a “qualifying” fair event, it will not be awarded any state funding for 2021.
“What I did was look at the $120,000 and said ‘okay, gosh, let’s slice and dice and try to go as bare-bones as possible from where we were in 2020,’” Monohon said. “I chopped it down to $89,926, and they approved a budget for me for $54,810.”
He continued, “It basically gives us about 5 to 5.5 months of salaries in that budget they provided, and it doesn’t look like they intend on working us a full year. Not even a half year here, but I have a meeting with them on Jan. 19 this month. In the budget, there was absolutely nothing put in my ‘other’ account.”
No state funding for 2021
On top of the decreased budget, the fair will not receive its annual $28,705 grant from the state because the drive-thru fair held last August did not meet the qualifications of an actual fair event. The state decided that fairs that didn’t meet the qualifications would need to roll the 2020 funds to 2021.
“I’m still going to send in things saying ‘you know, look, this is where we spent money,’ but I know they are going to [give] a very nice thank you and you have this much money left of what we gave you last year [so] use that,” Monohon said. “Until I meet, and I know what the bottom line is with our commissioners, I have no idea what their intentions are as to how to staff this and run this, because with just five months [it isn’t enough].”
No decision yet
Pacific County Commissioner Lisa Olsen admits that the county had to low ball the fair’s budget because it’s been the most impacted by the pandemic and, if needed, could be allotted additional funding once the outlook becomes more transparent.
“It looks really bad on paper, but that’s because we don’t have any idea what the funding’s going to be from the state,” Olsen said. “We are going to have to decide in the next two or three months as things pan out and see if the state opens back up and just see how things are going to go and if we are going to do a hybrid kind of fair.”
She continued, “It’s not a ratchet down [and] close it down kind of situation. It’s just that we put that into the budget and figured if we are going to have to do supplements anyway if we are to put any money into the fair, we just don’t know what it even looks like yet.”
According to Pacific County Risk Manager Kathy Spoor, the outlook from a risk standpoint is also far too early to tell.
“It’s just going to have to be a decision we probably make later in the year,” Spoor stated.