Despite increased revenues in admissions and total income in each of the past five years, the Champaign County Agricultural Society (CCAS), which runs the Champaign County Fair, has found itself operating with a deficit for the second straight year.
According to Fair Board President Tim Purk, the deficits in fiscal years 2014 and 2015 stemmed from the need to update and improve the fairgrounds, which this past August hosted the county’s 174th fair.
“We have had record years three out of the last five years in attendance and support as a fair,” Purk said. “With that said, we have made some much-needed and overdue improvements in equipment and tools for maintenance of our grounds and buildings over the last few years.
“Improvements have been several, but a few of the bigger ones are (we purchased) an additional tractor with loader, a manure spreader, and we replaced our pickup/snow plow with a heavier truck with a dump bed and plow,” he added.
In addition to equipment, the board has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past two years on new builds as well as updates to several existing facilities at the fairgrounds.
“With the growth of the horse racing industry in Ohio, we were able to take advantage and build a new race barn to add growth and revenue to that part of the fairgrounds,” Purk said. “We have also been able to provide a much-needed additional restroom/shower facility (near the horse arena) as well as recondition existing facilities.”
The CCAS in 2014 spent roughly $175,000 on the new restroom/shower facility and approximately $25,000 to renovate the restroom near the rabbit barn.
This year, the CCAS shelled out $250,000 for the construction of the fairgrounds’ sixth race horse barn, the first one built on the property since 1973. Located north of the race track by the Champaign County dog pound, the 40-by-200-foot barn consists of a wood frame and metal siding.
“All this is because of the tremendous support of our local banks and the community (in helping us) continue to build and have one of the nicest fairs and fairgrounds in the state,” Purk said.
Looking at the numbers
Since fiscal year 2011, the CCAS has seen not only its total income increase every year, but also its total yearly expenditures.
The CCAS’s past five financial reports for fiscal years ending Nov. 30 show total incomes of $867,312 (2011), $944,932 (2012), $1,077,745 (2013), $1,588,217.90 (2014) and $1,835,633.17 (2015). Yearly total expenditures over the same five-year period were $887,756 (2011), $893,708 (2012), $962,107 (2013), $1,864,836.64 (2014) and $2,078,716.38 (2015).
The numbers show that after posting a deficit of $20,444 in 2011, the CCAS operated with yearly profits of $51,224 in 2012 and $115,638 in 2013.
The past two years, however, resulted in deficits of $276,618.74 in 2014 and $243,083.21 in 2015.
Citing improvements made to the fairgrounds over the past two years as the main culprit to increased expenses and thus back-to-back yearly operating deficits, Purk said, there are no immediate plans to charge the public more to attend the fair or use the fairgrounds’ facilities.
“We are not actively looking at increasing any prices or anything along those lines to increase revenue, but we are always keeping aware of opportunities to explore as they arise,” he said.