Canyon County’s seven Fair Board members have all been removed from their seats and the fair’s director is no longer employed with Canyon County, changes that come as county commissioners announced the fair will not move to a new home north of Nampa.
The decision to continue to base the fair at its existing location in Caldwell ends a dispute going back to 2009, when the county bought an 80-acre property near Prescott Lane and U.S. 20/26. The commissioners at the time agreed to allow the Fair Board the opportunity to conduct a capital campaign to raise private funds to construct new fairground facilities at the site.
Tuesday’s announcement removes the site’s designation as a future fairgrounds, and commissioners will pursue alternate uses for the land, according to the county.
The commissioners all agreed on the decision to keep the fair in Caldwell, though it wasn’t a formal vote, Commissioner Tom Dale said Wednesday night. The vote to relieve the Fair Board members of their duties was unanimous.
Dale called the move a “directional change” by the county. Last month’s turnover in commission members — Pam White replaced incumbent Craig Hanson — appears to have paved the way for the decisions.
The capital campaign alone would not have paid for the move.
“There is no money to build a new fairground,” Dale said. “The bottom line is that we have to make the best with what we’ve got.”
“It was never the intent of the commissioners to use additional tax dollars to pay for the fair’s relocation,” White said in a news release Tuesday. “We appreciate the dedication of those individuals and organizations that worked towards a project that may have been a great benefit to the community at one time. However, at this time it’s in the best interest of the community to redirect our focus and energy on the current location in Caldwell.”
Fair Board members were notified Tuesday that they would be relieved of their duties, but commissioners encouraged them to reapply for the board seats, said county spokesman Joe Decker. Most of those fair board members were in support of moving the Canyon County Fair to the Nampa location.
Decker could not confirm if Fair Director Rosalie Cope was terminated or if she resigned, but did say she is no longer an employee of Canyon County as of last Friday. Diana Sinner, the previous exhibits supervisor for the Canyon County Fair, has been named interim director until Cope’s vacancy is filled.
Cope’s position was full-time with the county, whereas fair board members are part-time and are not paid.
The announcement also followed the county’s change in how the Canyon County Fair Board makes decisions. In 2015, the commissioners signed an ordinance designating the board as an advisory body only.
Decker explained that prior to 2015, the fair board made its own decisions without commission approval, including control over the purse strings. The change to its role was made because Canyon County’s population now exceeds 200,000 people and Idaho Code mandated the board become advisory only, similar to Ada County’s fair board.
With the recent removal of all seven Canyon County Fair Board members, the county is now accepting applications for residents who hope to be appointed to the board for the four-year terms.
For those interested, applicants must be able to attend the board meetings, held twice a month, and members are required to serve on committees, investing time in meetings and planning sessions.
Interested parties are encouraged to apply by filling out the Fair Board application and submitting it to the Canyon County Board of Commissioners’ Office or downloading it from the county website, at canyonco.org.
The deadline to apply to the board is Feb. 21.
“We’re excited to announce a renewed effort to keep the Canyon County Fair right here in Caldwell,” said Dale in a news release Tuesday. “We will be working with the various stakeholders moving forward to identify things we can do to update and enhance the current facilities in order to continue to make the fair an exciting family destination for years to come.”