Fair Association Agrees to County's New Lease Terms
 
Fair Association Signs Lease -
Posted on Thursday December 13, 2018
 
Benton Franklin Fair Association has signed a lease agreement with Benton County to put on the annual Benton-Franklin Fair & Rodeo in 2019 and 2020.
 

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Contact: Shyanne Faulconer
Community Programs & Public Relations Coordinator   
Shyanne.Faulconer@co.benton.wa.us 
509-222-3760

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 13, 2018

THE FAIR WILL GO ON - FAIR ASSOCIATION AGREES TO COUNTY'S NEW LEASE TERMS

Kennewick, WA – At 10:00 AM this morning, the Benton Franklin Fair Association (Fair Association) delivered a signed lease agreement with Benton County to put on the annual Benton-Franklin Fair & Rodeo, which the County is proud to host as our showcase event each August. 

Improvements to the Fairgrounds
The County and its taxpayers have paid and continue to pay for the buildings, operations, maintenance, and improvements to the Benton County Fairgrounds. Just in the last three years (2015-2018) Benton County has been able to invest over $3.4 million in improvements to the fairgrounds.

Benton County, as a subsidiary of the State, must follow Washington State Law (RCW 39.04.010) regarding procurement procedures for capital improvements. State Law (RCW 39.12) also requires that the County pay prevailing wages on public works projects, including any improvements. These requirements are not new; however, the language was put in the lease agreement to minimize any confusion regarding future capital improvements to the Fairgrounds.

The County continues to work one-on-one with local 4-H groups and other community groups to ensure that improvements meet their current and future needs, including the Building 4 kitchen remodel and future improvements to the barn facilities and the Building 1 restrooms. Each year, the County has continued to expend more on the Fairgrounds facility than is brought in for revenue, which is shown in the graph below.
Fairgrounds Exp vs. Rev

Finances
The Fair Association is a non-profit and is not affiliated with, under the budgetary control of, or otherwise under the purview of Benton County. As such, the County does not receive any direct revenue from the annual fair event, which is put on by the Fair Association. 

The Fair Association’s gross revenues from the annual fair have continued to rise over the last five years. The annual fair and rodeo, and thus the Fair Association, are very healthy financially, generating over $2.5 million in gross revenues with $800,000 from admissions and $179,000 from parking in 2017 alone.
Fair Assoc Gross Rev
The Fair Association has had a fixed lease rate of $170,000 per year for the last four years. The last rate increase occurred in 2014 at a 3% increase over 2013 rates, despite rising costs to the County to operate the Fairgrounds. The Fair Association Director’s salary, however, has continually increased, averaging over 6% over the last four years. The Fair Association Director made $147,000 in 2017.
Fair Association Lease vs. Exec. Director Salary
The Lease Agreement
The 2019 lease rate for the Fair Association will be $186,938, which is a 9% increase over the current rate of $170,000. 

The approved 2019 lease includes the following amenities:

  • Exclusive access and use of the Fairgrounds for one month; including setup before the fair, the week-long fair event, and cleanup of the grounds afterward.
  • Year-round office space for the Fair Association, located at the Fairgrounds.
  • Year-round storage at the Fairgrounds for Fair Association equipment, signs, and other items.

Included in the new lease is the requirement that the Fair Association vacate their current office space, located at the Fairgrounds, by the end of 2019. All other event holders and non-profits that use the Fairgrounds, including the Horse Racing Association, Barrel Racing Association, 4-H, and others, do not have year-round access to the facility. 

The County would like to continue making capital improvements to that Fairgrounds, including the area that is occupied year-round by the Fair Association, that will be available for all event holders, rather than exclusive use of the Fair Association.

Next Steps
As part of the negotiation process, the County encouraged the Fair Association to make attending the annual fair more affordable for all to attend, and to consider lowering entrance fees and/or parking fees so that everyone can enjoy the festivities.

Over the next two years, the County will be exploring additional options and/or opportunities to assist in making the fair more affordable for families.

The County welcomes feedback from the community on future improvements to the Fairgrounds, which can be submitted on our website via our Fairgrounds Improvement Suggestion Form. The community is welcome to contact the Commissioner’s Office directly on this matter by calling 509-786-5600 or by emailing commissioners@co.benton.wa.us

The County would like to reiterate to the citizens of Benton County our acknowledgement of the importance of the Benton-Franklin Fair & Rodeo to the community and would like to express our appreciation to the Benton Franklin Fair Association for their continued cooperation and their efforts to put on a wonderful, family-friendly event.

About Benton County
Benton County is located in south-central Washington. The county seat is located in Prosser, and its largest city is Kennewick. Benton County was created on March 8, 1905 and was named after U.S. Senator Thomas Hart Benton. Benton County operates under the plural executive form of government with three commissioners and seven other elected officials. Benton County has offices located in Prosser, Kennewick, and Richland. For more information, please visit our website

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