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  • 18 Sep 2014

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Washington County Fair Board bounces boosters from annual event

In a surprise move, the Washington County Fair Board voted unanimously Wednesday, April 3, to formally cut ties with the Washington County Fairground Boosters, a non-profit organization created in 1980 to help promote the Washington County Fair.

With the vote, the fair board officially disassociated itself from the boosters, meaning that the group will no longer be recognized as a support organization of the county’s annual fair.

Booster officials say the action came without warning and could lead to a possible legal fight with the county and the fair board.

Washington County Commission Chairman Andy Duyck, who also serves on the fair board, said the resolution was passed because the boosters had made too many demands on the way the fairgrounds were operated.

“It’s not just the opinion of what the booster group feels that the fair is,” said Duyck.

The resolution, approved 7-0, noted that the county fair is a public event that must maintain a positive image. The text of the resolution ripped the boosters: “The boosters do not represent a positive image of the Washington County Fair, and continue to actively and publicly oppose fair board policies, actions and staff choices.”

The resolution included a statement that “the fairgrounds boosters’ actions confuse the public about fair board policies and may have a detrimental effect of marketing the annual Washington County Fair, limiting opportunities and successes.”

Boosters Vice President Lyle Spiesschaert, who owns a farm near Forest Grove, said his organization had no inkling the fair board planned to cut itself off from the boosters.

“It was totally from out of who knows where,” Spiesschaert said. “It was not on the agenda, and all of a sudden they come up with this. One of the troubling things is the lack of transparency. How does a public board arrive at this without discussion?”

Spiesschaert said the boosters have donated about a quarter million dollars to the fairgrounds during the past several years, adding to his shock at the fair board’s move.

“It’s unprovoked and without cause,” said Spiesschaert.