The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Farm Bureau now sole owner of State Fair
The Virginia Farm Bureau Federation assumed full ownership of the State Fair of Virginia and the Meadow Event this week.
Farm Bureau entered into an agreement with the Tennessee-based fair operator that bought it at auction last year.
Farm Bureau, which had 50 percent ownership of the property since last July, reached the agreement on Thursday on the other half, and will continue to operate the state fair and other events at the Meadow Event Park, according to Farm Bureau spokesman Greg Hicks.
“This is a very proud day for Virginia Farm Bureau,” said Farm Bureau Federation President Wayne F. Pryor.
“Universal Fairs was a great partner for the first year, and the two groups were able to work together to continue uninterrupted operation of the State Fair after it had gone into bankruptcy just months earlier.
“And we part ways amicably,” he added. “Farm Bureau’s mission is to preserve, protect and promote agriculture, and help it prosper. We’ve realized there’s no better way to showcase this great industry than through the State Fair.”
He said Universal Fairs operates events across the country and did a great job in Virginia.
“They agreed to allow us to take full ownership so they could better focus on their many other events nationwide,” he said.
Universal Fairs President Mark Lovell said it was not his intention to sell his share of the business, but an offer was made that he couldn’t refuse.
Neither side would discuss the terms of the agreement, but Lovell said he made a good profit.
“They wanted to buy me out, and we negotiated a price that I felt was fair,” he said. “I made a profit and I’m out. They wanted it more than I did.”
Lovell said keeping the State Fair open in 2012 was “a welcome challenge and an extremely rewarding opportunity. It’s a unique and much-loved event, and we were proud to open those gates and light up that property last September.”
He said he was sure the State Fair of Virginia will have a long and promising future.
Caroline County officials said they appreciate the important role Universal Fairs played in helping save the state fair.
Lovell was the highest bidder when the 331-acre property went up for auction last May after filing bankruptcy.
“We thank Universal Fairs for stepping up when they did to help anchor the fair at Meadow Event Park,” said Caroline Board of Supervisors chairman Floyd Thomas. “Caroline is pleased that the Farm Bureau has expressed its confidence in our Caroline County site by becoming sole owner and operator of the state fair. The Meadow Event Park remains a premier entertainment site that will only become more exciting over time.”
Pryor said the Farm Bureau Federation has learned a lot and has gained insight into how to operate a fair.
“But we plan to expand and improve this wonderful event beginning this year and well into the future,” Pryor said. “We plan to carry this out through teaching exhibits, shows and competitive events that include livestock, dairy, equine, sheep and goats and much more. We also plan to continue the Skills USA competitions as well as competitions for photography and arts and crafts and the ever-popular Educational Expo, which hosts approximately 14,000 schoolchildren who participate in a Standards of Learning-based program and tour.”
This year’s fair will run from Sept. 27 to Oct. 6 in Caroline County.
Portsia Smith: 540/374-5419