Starting next summer, the Oregon State Fair will be run by a new 11-member council. It's the first step following legislation passed earlier this year to transition the Fair and Exposition Center to a public corporation.
In its 150-year history, the Oregon State Fair has been managed by various state agencies in an effort to reach profitability. The Department of Parks and Recreation has administered it since 2006. Lisa Van Laanen is the Assistant Director. She says her department has put nearly 40-million dollars into both the State Fair and Exposition Center, but cautions the two should be treated independently. She describes the State Fair as:
Van Laanen: "The biggest, largest, and it's the most important event that we do, but we have 354 days where we're pretty dormant, and that's where the supplement comes from is the exposition side."
Van Laanen says the new council will focus on creating a better business plan for the Exposition Center. She says other states have faced similar challenges. Successful models have found an anchor tenant to draw people to the grounds year-round, like a raceway or casino. Fair-goers should not expect to see any differences next summer. But there may be changes ahead for the other 50 weeks of the year.