The Clackamas County Event Center is looking ahead to fairground needs

by: FILE PHOTO - Surveys were given out during this year's fair as the visioning process began.What’s the future of the Clackamas County Event Center?

That question, and the ideas that have come from patrons, stakeholders and those simply with a passion for the facility, will form the answers for the future.

And that’s an exciting prospect, according to Laurie Bothwell, executive director of the Clackamas County Event Center.

“We’ve been involved in vision planning since July,” she said. “We did surveys during the fair to see what people were interested in, then did an analysis with our stakeholders to get an internal feel for the vision for the fairgrounds. Then we did a focus group with the city of Canby and people who rent our facility or work with us during the fair.”

Those were followed by a pair of community forums held recently that were lightly attended, said Bothwell.

“They weren’t as well attended as we’d hoped,” she admitted. “I think we had about 15 the first day and 10 the second. But the people who did attend gave us some good input on things.”

The visioning process is looking at everything at the event center — what needs to be updated, remodeled or replaced. And, once a course of action has been decided, how best to move it forward and fund it.

The information gleaned from the visioning process is being put together in a report by Mary Cook of Swanson Partners LLC. Once the first draft is complete, fair board members will discuss the results and how best to proceed.

This process was phase one of the project, funded by the Clackamas County Tourism and Cultural Affairs, and could proceed into February as several drafts will likely be worked on until a final draft if created.

The process, said Bothwell, has been rewarding.

“Throughout all of it, we found that people are emotionally attached to the fairgrounds,” Bothwell said. “It is a place that really has deep meaning to many people. That amazed me.”

As for the information taken, Bothwell said no overriding theme emerged.

“If there’s anything people are talking about, it’s that the fairgrounds as a whole needs to be updated and repaired. That means deciding what needs to be repaired and whether some facilities need to be torn down and rebuilt new.

“Then the question becomes how are we going to get funding for that,” Bothwell said. “The goal of the vision plan is to get everyone on the same page working together so we have a good plan and goals in place so we can move forward.”

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