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Lindley Estes is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and Fredericksburg.com. This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Lindley Estes.
Interest appears strong in State Fair property
Several groups have expressed interest in buying the 330-acre former Caroline County home of the State Fair of Virginia and operating the fair there, said the president and CEO of the Richmond-based company hired to auction the property.
“It offers a tremendous amount of value,” said Mark Motley, whose Motley’s Auction & Realty Group will handle the May 22 auction of the Meadow Event Park. “It really is a jewel.”
The auction, which will start at 2 p.m. at the Meadow park, will include numerous different elements — including four separate real estate parcels, intellectual property such as the State Fair of Virginia name and its statefair.com website, and a host of property used to run the State Fair and other events at the Caroline facility since its opening in 2009.
Motley said most of the prospective buyers have shown an interest in purchasing the entire property as well as the rights to run the fair. There have been inquiries from both Virginia and out-of-state groups.
Motley said his company’s goal, in addition to attracting the best price for the creditors in the State Fair of Virginia’s chapter 7 bankruptcy case, is finding a buyer who will want to run the fair and other events at the Meadow park. He called that the best use for the property.
It’s possible that one group could buy the Meadow facility, while another purchases the rights to the State Fair name and works out a deal to run the event there.
One businessman who has expressed an interest in running the fair is Mark Lovell, who owns Tennessee-based Universal Fairs, which puts on a variety of U.S. fairs, festivals and expos including the Georgia State Fair.
Lovell said Tuesday that he plans to bid at the auction May 22. He said he doesn’t really want to own the Meadow Event Park but would consider doing so if that’s what it takes to run the State Fair there. His preference would be to buy the name and then lease the facility for the fair.
Lovell is also considering putting on a separate event similar to the fair at the Richmond International Raceway, the State Fair’s home before it moved to Caroline. He said he would be interested in doing both events annually and said the Caroline one could have more of an agricultural feel.
Motley said people interested in buying some of the larger assets being sold May 22 must deposit $250,000 before bidding, with 10 percent of the purchase price due within three business days of the auction. His company is offering tours of the Meadow park by appointment.
A separate online auction will run May 15-May 24 at Motleys.com for other personal property from the Meadow park.