Commission seeks permanent management for Boone County Fairgrounds

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 | 3:15 p.m. CDT; updated 4:21 p.m. CDT, Thursday, October 13, 2011

COLUMBIA — It doesn't appear that there will be a big fight over who should manage the Boone County Fairgrounds, left without permanent leadership after the retirement of George Harris earlier this month.

Representatives of TAG Events, LLC, were the only bidders to attend an informational conference with county officials about a permanent fairgrounds management contract. Boone County Northern District Commissioner Skip Elkin and Purchasing Director Melinda Bobbitt were on hand Wednesday morning to answer questions about a request for proposals from potential fairground managers.

The county's request for proposal is available online and details the responsibilities future managers will have. These responsibilities include:

  • Paying all utility costs.
  • Honoring all previous contracts.
  • Maintaining the fairgrounds in working order.
  • Keeping track of financial records with specifics on each event and daily operations.
  • Providing an annual budget for commission approval.
  • Communicating with local news media to increase interest in the fairgrounds.
  • Providing a marketing strategy to advertise the fairgrounds.
  • Developing plans to form a partnership with the city of Columbia and its Convention and Visitors Bureau.
  • Consulting with the county regarding fairgrounds operations.
  • Booking events.

Elkin said the new management team will focus mostly on finances during its first year at the fairgrounds.

"Our goal is to track the financials and have those documents open for public review," he said.

Applications for the permanent management position are due by 9:15 a.m. Oct. 25. The commission will discuss the applications at its regular meeting at 9:30 a.m. that day.

Elkin said commissioners don't know which contractors might apply, or how many applications will be received. Proposals will remain private until negotiations start, Bobbitt said.

The county is currently paying TAG Events, LLC, $42,000 a month to manage the fairgrounds. Mike Teel and Brent Gibson were hired in late September to manage the fairgrounds until Dec. 31.

While they prepare their proposal to become the fairground's permanent managers, Teel, Gibson and their five employees continue to run day-to-day operations and clean-up the fairgrounds. Teel said the work is taking longer than he would like.

"It's not going fast enough to suit me," he said. "It is progressing. I'm impatient."

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