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11/22/2012 6:01:00 AM
Fairgrounds bosses putting on a friendlier face in Kingman
Fairgrounds wants to lose 'world of no' image
County Supervisor Gary Watson
County Supervisor Gary Watson

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
Miner Staff Reporter

For the first time in several years, the Mohave County Fair Association is starting to get some positive feedback.

Even County Supervisor Gary Watson is impressed.

"They're really trying to put forward their best offers. I'm really pleased with the direction they're trying to head," he said.

The association has had a reputation as being difficult to work with for several years and was on the cusp of losing its lease with the county in 2011.

"We kind of had the reputation of being the 'world of no,'" said Toni Swats, the association's spokeswoman. "We're trying to turn that around.

"We can't say 'yes' to everything, because there are some things we just aren't able to do. But, we will certainly try to do everything we can to help."

Watson said he has seen some great improvements in the management of the facility in the last year.

"Board members such as Bruce Bollinger and Jonathan Keitz are really trying to bring in some new ideas," he said. "It's nice to see members of the public such as local real estate agent Barbara Ricca, local businesswoman Krystal Burge and Jamie Taylor from Kingman Regional Medical Center at the meetings."

Brooke Hinman, one of the event promoters that put on the Kingman Regional Medical Center Krunch event a few weekends ago, didn't know what to expect when she walked in the door to ask about renting the fairgrounds.

"I had never worked with them before, but I had heard rumors. I was told they were impossible to work with," she said. "I went in with a hundred reasons not to hold the race there, and when I left I didn't have one reason left. The staff was wonderful. They really went out of their way to help."

For instance, when Hinman asked about using the old horse racing announcer's booth, James Guillot and the fairgrounds staff not only cleaned it out, they also repaired the floor and steps, painted it inside and out and installed new carpeting.

They also offered Hinman a driver and the association's water truck when the event needed water to keep the dust down during the event.

And Swats was able to help Hinman cut the insurance cost for the event by more than half by purchasing a temporary rider on the fair association's insurance plan.

"They really want to be conducive to business," said Paul Schupp of Precision Automotive, who has been a fair association member for a couple of years and held a number of events at the fairgrounds. "They want businesses to come and use the facilities."

"The new management has made it much easier to work with the association. I've seen some real positive growth."

And it's not just the attitude staff and the association has toward potential event organizers that improved, Schupp said. "I haven't seen the grounds look so good in years. Jimmy (Guillot) has done a fantastic job."

Guillot took over management and upkeep of the grounds after the previous fairgrounds manager, Errol Pherrigo, left in August.

There are still a few maintenance problems that both Watson and the fairground would like to see fixed. However, Swats said the association needs monetary help for some repairs to plumbing and buildings.

Watson said he wants to see the association's finances and a vision plan from the association before he will ask the Board of Supervisors for additional funds for the grounds.

Hinman already has plans to hold another event at the fairgrounds in March.

Watson is hoping with a few more improvements that Kingman could take the state rodeo capital crown from Prescott.

Schupp said he's already been talking with a number of motorsports groups about holding events in Kingman and using not only the fairgrounds but also the new motorsports facility going in north of Kingman on property owned by the Lingenfelter family.

"There's no reason we can't use both," he said. The louder, dustier, dirtier events can be held at the new center, where they won't disturb the neighbors as much and the events that are a little quieter can be held at the fairgrounds.

Swats has no problems with that. She tries to help each group balance the cost of holding their event with the needs of the community and cost to run the fairgrounds. If she thinks the event isn't a match for the facilities, she'll tell them and then suggest other possible locations.

Swats is also reaching out to the community and beyond to bring more events to the fairgrounds. She's even reaching out to coax event organizers who may have a bad experience with the fairgrounds in the past to come back and she's had some success. Every single weekend in April has already been booked.

Swats attributes the success to the association board, Guillot and the maintenance staff, a new office manager and volunteers from the community who have stepped forward to help.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, November 26, 2012
Article comment by: Foresight important

@ Sherwood
The fairgrounds is in Kingman because it is the county seat and at one time was centrally located. How much would you be willing to pay to move the fairgrounds? The fairgrounds should be low on the list of priorities of the new supervisors. The supervisors should have taken the offer from the Lingenfelter family. Their complex will be great competition to the fairgrounds once it grows to full potential. I foresee more than a racetrack there.

Posted: Sunday, November 25, 2012
Article comment by: Move the COUNTY Fairgrounds

To the new 5-member Board of County Supervisors.... Please move the COUNTY fairgrounds to someplace more central within the unincorporated COUNTY that is more centrally located. Somewhere where taxpayers in Mohave Valley and Bullhead and Lake Havasu can enjoy it. It's our fairgrounds also not just dirty Kingman's. I don't like going to Kingman and I don't like that the Board of Supervisors subsidizes the group they leased it to. They get $25,000 each year and now they are looking for ever more COUNTY taxpayer money? Really??!!

What is the point of even leasing it to the Association? Hildy, Steve and Buster please do something about this because obviously Watson won't.

Posted: Friday, November 23, 2012
Article comment by: Dotty Bollinger

As a member of this community, I have watched the fairgrounds for the last 10 years. I have also recently joined the fair association so that I can help turn this fairgrounds around. I would like to urge others in the community to join the fair association and come to the meetings to see what is happening. Offer your suggestions and your time to help make this a fairgrounds we can be proud of. Changes in operations this size take time and money. If the comminity will back the fairgrounds and support them in their goals we will see a big turn around in a short time. There are a lot of things coming into works during these meetings and a lot of ideas being put on the table. The fairgrounds is very serious about the changes they want to make and are getting a lot of support from Krystal Berg, Jamie Taylor, Barbara Ricca, John Salem and Gary Watson who are attending fair association meetings and are encouraging the fairboard's changes. There is a lot of new blood in the fair association which brings in new ideas and enthusiasm. How about you.

Posted: Friday, November 23, 2012
Article comment by: Rick Sherwood

Well it looks like the Fairgrounds will be staying put. So much for doing what's best for the County and moving it to a central location where everyone,in the County, can enjoy it. We'll see if the NEW BOS supervisors go with doing what's best for everyone in the County, like some said, or will they simply fall in line. They need to re-name it the Kingman Fair Grounds and lift the burden of expense from the County, if this is the direction they want to go.

Posted: Friday, November 23, 2012
Article comment by: Scott Patterson

While I personally won't be dealing with the new fairgrounds staff, I had recently wrote an email to complain about the sound system in the grandstands at a recent outdoor event. To my surprize, I quickly recieved a reply from Coletta Comer
(office manager) apologizing, and even considered a recommendation I gave her. If the rest of the staff conduct themselves in the same manner, looks like good things are coming. I'm looking forward to participating in most of the events coming to the fairgrounds. See you all then!

Posted: Thursday, November 22, 2012
Article comment by: Albert Khan

Kingman Fairground activities are very limited --maybe some activities very two to three months. Why so little considering your ground has a large ground. Why you are not making money? Please consider the example of Las Vegas fleamaket (SwapRama) have about 20000 to 30000 vendors set up every Fridays/Saturdays/Sundays year around. The cost of vendor setup is $35/space/day--this ground is opened full year around. Why don't you do the same thing?

Posted: Thursday, November 22, 2012
Article comment by: Apples to Oranges

This story is ridiculous. The 'county' fg is not a true regional venue, only vaguely benefits the Kingman area, and is run by a sewing circle. Why do we as county taxpayers have to annually subsidize the Fair Association $25,000 so they can do a terrible job?? Hopefully the new Board of Sups will rectify this train wreck.

As for motorsports events, what a joke. I read in a previous Miner story about the new park being constructed north of town. That is going to be 550 acres and run by private folks that understand what they are doing. You can't compare our bad joke of a 'county fairgrounds' with the new 550 acre motorsports park. All the fairgrounds are good for are gun shows, 4-H, and the Cancer Fair. Probably won't have fireworks because they are broke. But good luck with that.

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