Ottawa County Fair far from financial needs

OAK HARBOR, OH (Toledo News Now) - The Ottawa County Fair is tens of thousands of dollars away from where it needs to be to kick  a month, and the fair's board has some major financial troubles to overcome.

For the last couple of years, the weather has been off in a disaster for the fair.

The Ottawa County Fair was rained out last year, and dealt with days of sweltering heat. Then thunderstorms blew through, leaving some major damage. The damage hurt the fair's finances as well.

"It's a crap shoot. You're kind of putting all your eggs in one basket. Places like Cedar Point have all year for their ups and downs. We have one week to put on our fair, and you pray the weather is good," said Ottawa County Fair Board President Ron Frank.

Last year, the fair made $60,000 short of what they normally take in. Now, a month from opening day, they only have about $1,000 in their bank account. Commissioners say they'll need at least $50,000 to get the fair off the ground, but there's not much the county can do.

"It is very specific. We can only fund capital type projects, long term projects as opposed we are not allowed to fund operating," said Ottawa County Commissioner Jim Sass.

The fair board says canceling is not an option. About 800 kids will exhibit their animals there. The board is also adding on new events, such as a cheerleading competition and a tractor pull, to attract more visitors.

"When you can't bring the people through the gate, obviously your revenue goes down," Frank said, adding they are working closely with area banks and community members who sound like they're willing to help, but nothing has been set up yet.

Sass says visitors will also see scaling back, saying "I don't think there's any question. It's going to happen this year, and it's probably going to be the next couple years. In fact, fairs all over are scaling back."

The board is also looking at rain and event insurance. Community members who want to help can contact the Ottawa County Fair Board.

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