Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - June 18, 2010

County Fair opens Wednesday—a big boost to local economy

The opening of the 98th annual Alameda County Fair next Wednesday for a 17-day run is good news for Pleasanton, Alameda County and the fair, itself, adding millions of dollars in revenue as a record number of patrons—possible more than 500,000—pour through the gates for a day of fun, entertainment and the special foods only county fairs serve. The fairgrounds in Pleasanton encompass some 268 acres, making it one of the largest fairs in California. Nationally, the Alameda County Fair ranks 41st in attendance among all fairs in the U.S. Although the fairgrounds are part of Alameda County and patrolled by the county sheriff deputies, it's viewed manly as the fairgrounds in Pleasanton.

Pleasanton Finance Director Dave Culver finds it hard to separate out sales tax revenue that comes to Pleasanton from the fair, but his tax reports spike in June and July when the fair is on. Fairgoers generally come for the day and many are from Pleasanton, but both downtown stores and Stoneridge Shopping Center see larger crowds, restaurants are usually filled and local gas stations do a brisk business on fair days. Heavier traffic is seen across the Tri-Valley, showing the benefits of the fair spread well beyond Pleasanton.

Stephen Chambers, executive director of the Western Fairs Association, reports that California's 76 fairgrounds are a statewide economic engine that is vital to the state at a time of large and growing budget deficits. In 2002, a report showed these fairs collectively generated over $200 million in direct tax income for the state while supporting countless small businesses and employing over 31,00 people. The Alameda County Fair has a huge economic impact as hundreds of businesses, non-profit groups, and a wide range of animals from chickens to race horses, collide with thousands of guests to create the always fantastic county fair at Pleasanton. A new study showing the impact fairs have in the state will be reported at the end of the year with emphasis on how these events are helping the state and local governments in this time of economic need.

So enjoy the fair and the multitude of events, shows and unique surprises, including the late night fireworks show that starts at dusk on Friday, July 2.

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