The Sacramento County Fair could relocate to the Elk Grove-Galt area, said Pamela Fyock, the fair’s manager.
“We just started the initial process of looking at the feasibility of moving the Sacramento County Fair back to the south valley – the Elk Grove-Galt area,” she said. “We’re doing a study to see if our intuition is right, and we need facts to back it up.
“We’re really just looking at the big picture. Is the area right for an expo center? We’re excited about the potential (move).”
Fyock added that the feasibility study is on course to be completed next spring.
The County Fair has been operating at the Cal Expo fairgrounds in Sacramento since 1969, and it produced the State Fair Horse Show until 1991. This fair is traditionally held in late May and ends on Memorial Day.
Moving to the southern part of Sacramento County would be a return to its roots for the County Fair, which was established in Galt in 1937. The County Fair was also held at the old California State Fairgrounds on Stockton Boulevard in Sacramento from 1954 to 1968.
Fyock explained why the County Fair’s board desires to have the fair relocate from its current site of Cal Expo.
“We would like to have the Sacramento County Fair have its own expo and event center, so we can do things more than just one time a year,” she said. “We’re a guest on (Cal Expo’s) grounds and we would like our own fairgrounds.”
The County Fair currently must make its entire annual budget during the five days of the fair, Fyock told Herburger staff.
“We’re really limited in the scope of events we can have,” she said. “We can only be a fair, instead of being able to attract other (events) to the grounds, from weddings and quinceañeras and RV shows to business meetings.
“There can be anything you can imagine, from sports in the buildings to whatever anybody needs to rent the fairgrounds for. We can serve our community and become more relevant to the community.”
Fyock mentioned that for the County Fair to acquire its own fairgrounds, an “aggressive capital campaign” would be launched.
Such a campaign would be initiated, if the feasibility study results in the warranting of a move to the south part of the county.
In the meantime, Fyock said that money is already being raised for a possible future relocation.
“We’re quietly starting to raise money for the potential (move) through our foundation,” she said. “People have just received an end of the year solicitation, and we hope everybody participates. It’s very exciting to think what the future can build.”
Local Galt officials respond to fair’s potential relocation
Galt City Council members have voiced their interest in the fair’s relocation to the south county.
Councilmember Paige Lampson said that she has been actively working to assist in getting the fair in the Galt area.
“I am very interested in bringing the county fair back to the Galt area and, in fact, have been working toward this goal,” Lampson said. “This would be a great opportunity for the Galt area FFA and 4-H clubs, along with our award winning high school programs to have closer access to event, practice and fundraising opportunities. It would also be fantastic for our community to have a new modern facility to hold events such as weddings, fundraisers, harvest festivals, craft fairs, etc.”
Councilmember Shawn Farmer said that bringing the fair back to the Galt area would be like it “coming home”.
“Seeing as how we were the home of the original fair from 1939 to 1949, it would be like ‘coming home’,” Farmer said. “In addition, all know how important the FFA and 4-H programs are to our schools, and the fair is a huge piece of this, not to mention we have the Future Farmers of America headquarters based here. The more I think about it, the more exciting the idea is.”
But beyond a good fit for students and nostalgia, Farmers said that the city would benefit from such a move as well.
“I think it would absolutely be in the best interest of the city to engage dialogue with Ms. Fyock about whether bringing the fair back to Galt could be possible,” Farmer said. “To not explore this with them could mean missing a huge opportunity. They are looking for a new home, Galt is looking for new additional revenue sources, including better usage of the Galt market surrounding properties.”
Councilmember Rich Lozano said that there were “endless possibilities that can be explored” whether the county fair makes its home in the city limits or outside of the city limits.
“As I have mentioned before, the city really needs to continue evaluating opportunities to engage in public-private partnerships to bring amenities to our citizens. This may be one of those opportunities,” Lozano said. “I say let’s open the door of opportunity and keep it open until we have evaluated it thoroughly. If the county fair board of directors is willing to invest in our community, we have the obligation to listen and evaluate the value it would bring to our citizens. This possibility could bring a plethora of economic development opportunities for the city and the region.”
Like Farmer, Lozano also pointed out that the California State FFA offices were located in Galt and spoke to the great numbers of students, families and organizations in the area that would benefit from the fair being closer.
“What better place to have a county fair that is supported by the FFA programs in our area? Many of the students and families in our region spend many hours and days of the year preparing for the fair. They are raising animals for auction and show, among other activities,” Lozano said. “There would certainly be a convenience for our families if the fair was closer.”
Galt Joint Union High School District Board President Daniel Denier agreed with the Councilmembers.
“I think this idea is something that would be great for our schools and communities if it could become a reality,” Denier said. “I think it would be wise for the school districts, City Council and chamber to strongly support turning this possibility into a reality. It would provide an economic benefit to Galt and our local communities. I believe a fairground located in or around Galt would also provide our 4-H and FFA programs to participate in and host many more opportunities to show and work with animals throughout the year – beyond just the yearly fair. It is time to bring the fair back home, where it belongs and where it will be supported.”
The Galt Herald Managing Editor Bonnie Rodriguez contributed to this story.