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Boosters make good things happen at fair

In response to the recent letter to the editor (Hillsboro Tribune, May 3 issue) that said the Fair Boosters are complainers and not helpers, I suggest the truth be told.

First off, I am George W. Horner of Forest Grove, who graduated in math at Pacific University, was a naval officer in combat in World War II, came back to Forest Grove and spent 36 years at Pacific in administration. In addition to my son, David, I raised and trained registered Suffolk draft horses. In 1970, I started to show our horses at the Washington County Fair, and soon became manager of draft horse activities. For the following 30 years, we had a six-day program of activities for draft horses. We became the largest draft horse show in Oregon — including the State Fair.

In those years, I would show at several county fairs in Oregon and Washington and later at the Puyallup State Fair. With the able help of Cal Wade, fair manager, the Washington County Fair was the best of the lot.

But we had a problem. We needed $65,000-$75,000 for the upkeep and rebuilding of fair buildings each year. We were successfully able to put together a 1 percent tax on county motels and hotels to raise these funds dedicated to the repair of fair buildings. Now, I understand it produces much more — about 10 times that much.

So now, where are we? The current management has pulled down 13 buildings and has not replaced one. From what we had to what we now have, it is a pathetic four-day event with buildings falling down and horses and sheep in one barn; what a mess.

Let’s talk finance. Everyone gets in free at the fair, but you must pay to park your car. So the fair must make its money on food or junk sales. So it appears the 1 percent tax money is paying for operation and salaries and not buildings. Is this legal? And yes, I paid $28 as a senior and guest at Puyallup. But they do have a great show to see, and people will pay for a good show.

Let’s talk Boosters. Boosters are like alumni at a university. They make things happen. Some like flowers, some like cows, some like art, I liked horses. On my desk is a list of 32 projects the Boosters completed at the fair, like the year we painted the fair buildings at no cost to the fair. Boosters are a big help.

My thoughts: The fairgrounds belong to the people — not politicians or fair boards. It should be open all year like a well-kept park, and open on financial operations with activities for the public to use. It is puzzling that volunteers are not encouraged. My concern: The fair and grounds will become just another shopping center. So Mr. Fair Board member, come to Booster meetings. Ask and you will receive the truth.

George W. Horner lives in Forest Grove.




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