Put Fair commitments on hold

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By Jim Clark

Just a few weeks ago, I wrote what a good time I had at the Levy County Fair.

That really hasn't changed, but a few revelations about the financial condition of the Fair have put a new spin on things.

Forget the legal problems; they should clear up. It's the fact that the Fair is in the red that should concern people, especially local governments.

By the way, if you pledged money to the Fair Association to help with expenses, and you haven't lived up to you pledge, please do so. But that's another matter.

It's of concern to a lot of people that Williston seems to be bearing the brunt of organization for this event. This is supposed to be a countywide effort, yet we've seen precious little evidence of help from elsewhere.

The county agreed to support the Fair, which was necessary for state sanction, but there needs to be a cost balance spread among the government entities in the county.

Until that happens, Williston should refrain from committing any of its resources to the Fair in the future, including the land.

There was a tabled request for a 25-year lease at the last City Council meeting. Presumably that may come up next week. It would be prudent of the city to wait. If it wants to commit to next year, so the Fair can start planning, that's fine, but long-term decisions shouldn't be made now.

One thing that has to be looked at is the location. The site was perfect for a fair except for one thing. It was not in an area to generate walk-in traffic.

It's bad enough that the event was not along the main road of U.S. 27 or Alt. U.S. 27, the four-lane superhighway that cuts through the county. It was off a two-lane highway, but even then wasn't easily visible from the road. In other words, if you were just passing by, you wouldn't know it was there.

With all the vacant land along the four-lane, surely somehow someone could find a way to put the fair in a more visible location.

When I first came to Levy County, I was delighted to hear there was the Suwannee River Fair. The first year I was here I went to the location, expecting to have some good food, play some games, take some good pictures. Instead, I was sorely disappointed. It was an animal show, which is great for the kids, but it wasn't a real fair.

Then along came the Levy County Fair. This is a chance to put something together that can provide great entertainment for the county ... the whole county. But it's going to take more than one city committing itself.

I hope the rest of the county wakes up and contributes. Maybe then it can grow into the type of event that we hear advertised from other counties.

Jim Clark is the editor of the Williston Pioneer Sun News. He can be reached at editor@willistonpioneer.com or at 528-3343.