State Fair Commission Chooses Event Operator - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

State Fair Commission Chooses Event Operator

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By Chris Cannon

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee State Fair and Exposition Commission voted to enter into an agreement with the group it has chosen to operate the Tennessee State Fair for the next five years.

The commissioners voted Friday to enter into a contract with the Tennessee State Fair Association. The organization has operated the fair for the last several years.

"It was clear that the Tennessee State Fair Association, which had been operating the fair the last two years, was clearly the winner of this," said Commission chairman Bo Roberts.

The TSFA was one of two groups who submitted proposals to operate the fair. Delta Agribusiness was the other entry. Commissioners said there was a noticeable difference in detail between the proposals.

"We don't judge it on size, but the quality and the depth of the response were much greater," Roberts said.

Commissioners believe a five year contract will have a big impact on the quality of future fairs.

"So that the vendors, and the agriculture community, have some trust in where its going to be happening in the future, as opposed to a year to year basis. We felt that was important," according to Roberts.

The chairman of the TSFA said association members spent a lot of time and effort preparing the proposal to operate the fair.

"We've put in, literally, hundreds of hours into preparing this over the last three weeks," said John Rose. "It the first time in my life, and in the lives of our volunteers at TSFA, that we've had to compete for the chance to volunteer to do something."

Rose said TSFA members have already started planning the 2014 fair.

The group "Save Our Fairgrounds" took issue with the request for proposal process for the fair operator.

"I still won't say we were wrong in disagreeing with the short period of time, I still believe the short period of time hurt the number of qualified applicants, and give them time to respond. But we're past that, and I want to go past that," said Rick Williams.

Williams said "Save Our Fairgrounds" will support TSFA's efforts to produce the fair. The group will now focus on improving the fairgrounds property.

"We'll proceed forward in doing that. And again, we'll try to get Metro to upgrade the property. We'll talk to the Metro Council about doing that, and we'll also ask the State to get involved and upgrade the property," according to Williams.

The TSFA must now go before the Metro Fair Board and negotiate a lease with the city to use the land at the fairgrounds for the 2014 event.

Email: ccannon@newschannel5.com
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