Contact: Steve Stagnaro
Direct Line 408-354-5145

July 9, 2011

Watsonville, CA - It was May of 1941 when 105 acres of rolling pasture along Hecker Pass Road became the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds.  Yes, the Fairgrounds has been making much joy and a little noise for 70 years.  When that first Fair opened in October of 1941 there were few immediate neighbors.  But people came, perhaps drawn by the beautiful setting, and with them came the problem of living next to a Fairgrounds.

With respect to being a good neighbor, the history of this almost priceless community asset is one of a growing awareness and responsiveness, and ultimately, self-limitation.  When amplified music pushed itself over the neighborhood out came decibel meters to limit the intrusion.  A few equestrian events started running well past midnight so language was added to agreements to ensure they ended at a reasonable hour.  If a promoter could not abide by restrictions designed to keep their parties from spilling out and disrupting the surrounding area they were asked not to return.

Have there been times when an event at the Fairgrounds intruded into the neighborhood?  Of course, it is impossible to be a public facility open to all and not have an occasional violation of policy.  It is the way the Fairgrounds responds with solutions when these violations are identified that insures it remains a very good neighbor.

The Fairgrounds is currently facing a lawsuit brought by a group of neighbors known as CAFA.  (Community Alliance for Fairgrounds Accountability)  The promised expensive legal action could ultimately deliver to the group a neighboring 105 acres containing empty decaying buildings and only echoes of the joy once created there.

For now the Santa Cruz County Fair is able to celebrate the rich agricultural history of our community and people, and invest heavily in bringing this heritage to our youth.  The 2011 Fair will be held September 13-18, 2011 at the Fairgrounds located on Highway 152 just east of Watsonville.  This year’s theme is “Dancing with the Steers for 200 Years” which celebrates 200 years of modern agricultural fairs in America.  Information on the 2011 Fair, and the Fairgrounds can be found at www.santacruzcountyfair.com

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