Then and now: 25 years at the Nevada County Fair
Special to The Union
My first fair was in 1983. It has always been a wonderful Fair, even before my involvement. However, those first fairs seemed much more chaotic than today.
I recall our private security trying to be in several spots at once. Fights were common and at times could be a bit overwhelming.
I recall trash and litter everywhere, and restrooms that needed constant attention. It was the first year the fair attempted to manage the parking lot with fair employees, and it was the first year that Butler Amusement was involved.
The fair closed at midnight and each night patrons needed to be escorted off the grounds by security. There were many lessons to learn, often the hard way.
I recall being totally exhausted and depressed after the fair; and, yet, jubilant that I had survived my first fair.
Today, the fair is much cleaner and much more organized. Trash is constantly picked up, and restrooms have attendants and are in good condition.
Security is more coordinated. Our parking lots are well managed and the traffic on McCourtney Road is managed with the coordination of fair employees and the Grass Valley Police Department.
Butler Amusement has evolved into one of the top carnivals in the Western United States, drinking of alcoholic beverages is better controlled, and the fair closes at 11 p.m. and there is normally no need to escort folks off the grounds.
I’m still exhausted and depressed at the end; but, still jubilant and proud of another production of one of California’s most successful fairs.
There was a sense of awe, and a sense of unknowing, on my first day. I began in November when there was very little happening.
It would be several months before I realized what a big job it is to produce the Nevada County Fair, and at the same time maintain a nearly one hundred acre grounds with major facilities.
Today, the job is much more intense. We now produce two other major events – the Draft Horse Classic and the Country Christmas Faire.
The grounds are utilized almost every day for major events to building rentals to the RV Park. Before, the grounds would be virtually shut down at night.
Today, our grounds are more like a park with walkers and bicyclists utilizing the grounds on a daily basis.
I am most proud of the fact that our fair is still a strong community fair.
It has an attendance of nearly 100,000 people and 65 percent of those attending reside in Nevada County. I’m convinced that a large part of the remaining 35 percent is children returning to “their” fair or friends who visit during this time to attend this wonderful event.
For weeks before and after, the fair is the talk of our communities. It belongs to the people of Nevada County, which in turn makes it a shining example of a successful county Fair.
One thing I’ve thought from the very beginning, the Nevada County Fairgrounds is a very special place. There is something here.
You can feel it when there’s snow on the ground and there’s not another person in sight; and if you concentrate, you can feel it when there’s 10,000 people on a Saturday night at the Fair.
I love these Fairgrounds, and I especially love the Nevada County Fair.
Ed Scofield will retire at the end of this year after serving as CEO of the Nevada County Fairgrounds for more than 25 years.
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