Boone County commissioners discuss new name for fairgrounds

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 | 5:17 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The Boone County Fairgrounds soon will have a new name as part of an effort to rebrand the property and emphasize its year-round use for events beyond the annual county fair.

The only suggested name thus far is "Central Missouri Events Center, Home of the Boone County Fair." It was suggested by Mike Teel and Brent Gibson of TAG Events, current managers of the fairgrounds. The Boone County Commission held a public hearing on renaming the fairgrounds during its Tuesday morning meeting.

"I think there was a lot of confusion about why we would change the name of the fairgrounds, but (the fair) only lasts a week a year," Southern District Commissioner Karen Miller said. "The whole rest of the year it's events."

John Sam Williamson was the only person to speak during the public hearing. He favored the new name suggested by TAG.

"I like the part that indicates that it's a regional facility, rather than just a local Boone County facility," he said.

Williamson is a long-time supporter of the fair. Both he and his father served on the board of the Boone County Agricultural and Mechanical Society, commonly known as the fair board.

The renaming process is part of an effort to show that the fairgrounds is about more than the weeklong fair. A list of events taking place at the fairgrounds can be found on TAG's website.

"There's a lot more happening out there than just the fair," Miller said.

Last fall, there was a contest among 4H clubs to rename the fairgrounds. But the names submitted didn't capture what county commissioners and TAG hoped to see in terms of marketing and rebranding the fairgrounds, Miller said. The names were fun, but too focused on 4H and the fair itself, she said.

The fairgrounds have seen a year of upheaval. Longtime manager George Harris stepped down from running the fair in October. Since January, TAG has been managing the property.  TAG, in cooperation with the commission have been fixing up the fairgrounds.

The fairgrounds continue to see improvement. Miller said she has secured state money to pay for new lighting inside the coliseum.

As for the name, the public will have another chance to weigh in during a hearing at 7 p.m. March 27.

The commission also is working on a proposal for naming rights to each of the buildings at the fairgrounds, according to a news release. The request for proposals will be released some time in the next few months.

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