Josephine County fairgrounds: In the black, out from under a dark cloud

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GRANTS PASS, Oregon — A financial turnaround appears to have gotten the fairgrounds in Josephine County out of a jam that threatened its future.

Last fall, the county commissioners said they wouldn't put any more general fund money into the operation: Either it would become self-sustaining, or the fairgrounds would be shuttered.

The books on the fiscal year recently closed, and fairgrounds officials say they are more than $100,000 in the black, The Grants Pass Daily Courier ( reported.

Operating costs are about $625,000 a year.

The brighter financial picture is attributed to increased rental fees, grants, a fundraising drive and donations from groups.

All that means the county can focus on the centennial edition of the fair, scheduled Aug. 13-16, instead of making plans for its demise.

"We're staying open," said Fairgrounds Manager Mary Groves. "I think we're going to be here for a long time to come."

The fairgrounds and its finances had long been in decline.

The decline of horse racing and competition for entertainment dollars from casinos and video poker got part of the blame. As the finances weakened, the fair was unable to hire the likes of Johnny Cash or the Beach Boys to draw crowds, and the buildings and grounds aged and deteriorated.

The commissioners issued their ultimatum in 2013 after bailing out the fairgrounds to the tune of $340,000, and now one of them says the turnaround is solid.

"It's a wonderful picture," said Commissioner Keith Heck. "It seems that the momentum of the fairgrounds is moving in a positive direction."

Information from: Daily Courier,

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