PLACERVILLE (CBS13) — There’s an unbearable thought for the head of the El Dorado County Fair — having to chain up the gates of the fairgrounds potentially for good.
“It makes me want to cry. It would be devastating. You’re making me cry,” Jody Gray, CEO of El Dorado County Fair, said.
But it’s also likely the reality for Gray during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’ve already lost over $200,000 just in rentals,” Gray said.
She says without a fair this year, the gates could close for an indefinite time and could stay that way if no additional funding comes through their doors.
“It will cripple us. We did a worst-case scenario budget. By the end of December, we’ll be completely out of money,” she said.
The fair makes up roughly 60% of Gray’s budget. It has already pushed the fair from June to July in hopes of large-scale outdoor events being allowed to happen during the coronavirus pandemic. Without that funding, the layoffs will happen and they’ll be unable to continue to run the fairgrounds.
But the fair is just the beginning. The fairgrounds are also home to other things like nonprofit organizations, agricultural livestock shows, and concerts. It also serves as an evacuation site during disasters.
“This is where our nonprofits raise over two million dollars that goes back into our community. If we don’t have the fairgrounds or the fair, where will they go to raise that money and then what will happen to the underprivileged in our community?” Gray said.
It would also shutter the place where there were meetings that turned into a lifetime of memories for people like Amanda Ferry.
“Over 20 years ago, this is the place where I first met my husband,” Ferry said.
She said it was love at a livestock showing as the two were displaying their prized animals.
“It just would be…very devastating if the fairgrounds weren’t available for our community coming together,” Ferry said.
A craft kids are still learning at the fairgrounds in clubs like 4H.
“My kids have grown up here and now I get to see them show and complete their tenures in 4H, and follow the whole suit of the program and help other kids and they become leaders themselves,” Jorgi Darrah, parent to 4H member, said.
And they won’t get that experience if the gates close.
“That would be like an era ending pretty much because, without the fair, our community has no way to come together,” Payton Darrah, Jorgi’s daughter, said.
“It would be pretty disheartening because I have a lot of memories here of course,” Austin Ferry, Amanda’s son, said.
A place of memories young and old and a pillar that could crumble for this foothills community.
“It would be the most devastating thing for our county, absolutely, and it would break my heart,” Gray said.
CBS13 wanted to know if the fairground would be sold if the gate would have to close. The CEO said she isn’t sure of what would happen; seeing as this is an unprecedented situation.