County Fair Asks Tourist Commission For Help

Robert Moore

Herald Staff

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The pandemic has had a devastating impact on local events in Mercer County, forcing many of them to be canceled. The Mercer County Fair and Horse Show was successful this year. According to  Dr. LeMayne Ellis, president of the fair board, they had more horses at horse show than in years.

However, other events were not held. Ellis said the spring killed them.

Last week, he went to the Harrodsburg-Mercer County Tourist Commission and asked for $27,000 to pay for insurance at the fairgrounds. Ellis said property insurance had jumped from $21,000 to over $27,000.

“We’re just asking for help,” he said.

In the past, the City of Harrodsburg contributed anywhere from $25,000 to $37,000 a year in quarterly installments. The funds were drawn from the city’s share of the restaurant tax. Ellis said he needed to act soon on the insurance.

Ellis said the plan is to start the Harrodsburg’s 250th anniversary celebration at the fairgrounds. But the fair, which is billed as one of the oldest in the county, needed help to survive.

“We might not even be here,” he said.

Mike Inman, chairman of the tourist commission, said the fair ‘has got to survive.” But first they needed to know where the money was coming from.

“Right now, I don’t know where we’d pull it from unless we pulled it from the operational reserves,” Inman said.

Ellis said their only other solution was to borrow money. He said it was harder to raise money because there were so many with their hands out. The fair has sponsorships from several banks and the Harrodsburg Herald. Ellis said the truck pull was completely paid for by sponsorships.

Inman said they needed to sit down and figure out how to work it out.

“Your budget kind of looks like ours, cut in half,” he said.

No action was taken. In other business, the Harrodsburg-Mercer County Tourist Commission:

• Learned their new website is 99.9 percent complete, except for proofreading. Tia King Taylor said there has been a good response to voting on the tourist commission’s new logo. Taylor said over 100 votes were cast over the first hour.

Tim Kazimer said he’d heard complaints the new logo designs looked a little “clip-arty.” Kazimer called the logo “colorful and eye-popping.”

All members liked the interactive aspect of it. Kazimer called it a “complete 180” from the old logo. “Being interactive like this is a good thing,” he said.

• Discussed the need for new members. King said she wants to continue. Her name will be submitted for another term to restaurant and lodging association, who will meet in October. The association will have to appoint a replacement for Chuck Dedman. Kazimer said his suggestion was to move his appointment to lodging and appoint a restaurant representative. He said they should have something by the next meeting.

State law says they have to produce a list of three candidates. Inman and Kazimer said they need to revise the bylaws to make it clear that when someone is appointed, they are assuming a term, not being appointed to a full three year term.

“It’ll take a little while to work all that out,” Inman said.

In addition, he said he wanted each board member to represent a local attraction.

“There are a lot of moving parts here, some of them we haven’t identified yet,” Inman said.

He asked Joan Huffman to stay in touch with Old Fort Harrod, Harrodsburg First Main Street Program, Anderson-Dean Community Park and other areas.

“There is a lot of work to be done here,” Inman said. “I think we ought to be out there trying to make a difference in the community.”

Inman said the big area not covered is festivals. He said he hopes a new member will take that over and they want to be a key player in the marketing.

“It’s a pretty big role,” Inman said.

The tourist commission has not hired an executive director since Karen Hackett resigned in May. Even if they found a replacement, the new  executive director couldn’t be everywhere, Inman said.

“We can’t operate in crisis mode every year,” Inman said.

The next meeting of the Harrodsburg-Mercer County Tourist Commission will be on Wednesday, Oct. 7, at 9 a.m.

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