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COVID-19 Impact on CA Fairs

Overview of COVID-19 impacts on the California Fair Industry:

There are 78 Fairs in California. They are made up of:

  • 52 active District Agricultural Association's - a state government entity
    • (The Kern County Fair is the 15th District Agricultural Association)
  • 23 county fairs - County government or not-for-profit organizations
  • 2 citrus fruit fairs - not-for-profit organizations
  • The California Exposition and State Fair (Cal Expo) - a state agency

There has been 30+ California Fairs cancelled this year.

The Network of California Fairs have been called upon by the Governor to assist in emergency services during this Pandemic. Fairgrounds throughout California are currently being used as emergency overflow hospitals, COVID testing sites, food pantries, and homelessness housing for recovering patients.

Not only are these fairgrounds being used during the Pandemic, the Network of California Fairs is always on the front lines providing emergency services throughout the year. We are not a stranger to California Fire Season and California Fairs often serve as a base for fire camps and housing for those who get displaced. Emergency shelter for both humans and animals, Cooling Centers, Flooding, the list goes on and on.

In 2011, California Fairs were tasked with surviving without any funding from the State. We all earn our money to keep our doors open year-round by renting out our facilities for interim events.

Since losing funding, Western Fairs Association and California Fairs Alliance has been working hard to help gain some of that funding back. In 2017, the governor signed AB 1499 – California Fairs are just now starting to receive those funds because of the current emergency situation.

However, the money received by the fairs from AB 1499 will only last fairs 1 – 3 months at the most and is being used to cover State Employee Salaries, State Employee Benefits, Utilities, and upkeep maintenance of the facility.

California Fairs are so much more than a onetime, 12 Day annual event for our community. We help stimulate our local economies, educate our youth, and provide a safe haven in times of need.

The Network of California Fairs according to the 2015 report indicates:

  • Spending Impact 3.9 Billion
  • Income Impact 1.2 Billion in Wages
  • Employment Impact 30,000 Full time Jobs
  • Sales and Use tax from Fairground Operations $66 Million
  • Spending Impact $39,143,000
  • Income Impact $13,396,000
  • Employment Impact 454 Jobs
  • Sales and Use Tax from Fairground Operation $544,000
Additional Overview of impacts on the Kern County Community with Kern County Fair:
  • The Kern County Fair and Event Center is home for over 130 public and private events every year at our fairgrounds.
  • We have 12 non-profit food vendors who participate each year during the annual Fair. For many of these non-profits, the fair is their main fundraiser throughout the year.
  • These nonprofit vendors grossed a total of $607,253.74 at the 2019 fair.
  • We partner with local businesses who purchase tickets at a discounted rate to reward their employees.
  • The fair also brings people from outside of our community who come to the 12-day event, and spend money at our local hotels, restaurants, and stores.
  • Annually, the fair hires over 500 seasonal employees within our community, not including those who are hired on by food vendors and the carnival company.

It would be sad if we had to permanently close our doors on years of traditions and memories.

How can you help?

Thank you for your support of our fairgrounds and fair industry partners. Please use the letters below as a guide as you create your message to your legislature. After appropriate adjustments to the letter are made, please send it to your elected officials. If you have any questions or concerns we would be happy to assist you as you compose your messages.

Below are the addresses and emails for representatives:

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy
2468 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

4100 Empire Drive
Suite 150
Bakersfield, CA 93309

The Honorable Melissa Hurtado
California State Senate
State Capitol
Sacramento, California, 95814 Senator.hurtado@senate.ca.gov

The Honorable Rudy Salas
California State Assembly
State Capitol
Sacramento, California, 95814

The Honorable Shannon Grove
California State Senate
State Capitol
Sacramento, California, 95814

The Honorable Vince Fong
California State Assembly
State Capitol
Sacramento, California, 95814

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