A group dedicated to the Mother Lode Fairgrounds is putting together a fundraiser to support future operations as the organization faces state budget cuts.
Friends of the Mother Lode Fairgrounds is holding a barbecue fundraiser on Saturday, dubbed “Help the Fair Survive Another 75,” a reference to this year’s 75th anniversary fair.
Shelley Truelock, a member of the Friends Board of Directors and organizer of the event, said the plan is to run an end-of-summer event annually with all proceeds supporting the fairgrounds.
Because this will be the “first annual” barbecue, Truelock said organizers haven’t set specific fundraising goals yet for the group or its events. And with about two dozen volunteers, she said they’re always looking for more help.
“We’re just going to give it our all and hope each year will become bigger and better,” she said on Monday. “That’s how the fairgrounds are going to survive.”
The fundraiser will run from 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday with a tri-tip dinner, prize drawings, games and activities for youth, animals on display, a vendor fair, cooling fans in the barn and more.
Truelock said tickets for a second, ongoing raffle will be available to win a new riding lawn tractor donated by the local Sears and matching trailer from Napa Auto Parts. The drawing for the mower will take place at a separate event in October, with tickets for sale at the fair office and other events until then.
Friends of the Mother Lode Fairgrounds was formed in recent months after the state announced last year it would cut off funding to the state-owned fairgrounds. The cuts have left the organization without about $200,000 annually, a third of its budget.
A proposal to expand a local lodging tax in June was designed to help fill that funding gap, as well as help fund Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, but voters voted it down.
And while the fair leaders have taken measures to cut costs and downsize some operations, Truelock said community support is also required to keep it on its feet. Along with this barbecue and the tractor raffle, the Friends also organized a chili cook-off in the spring that is expected to be an annual event.
She said the efforts are not just for the annual Mother Lode Fair. The fairgrounds host more than 60 events a year, drawing around 200,000 people total, she said.
“We want to make sure all of those events are allowed to continue in the future,” she said.
MOTHER LODE FAIRGROUNDS FUNDRAISER: Saturday, 1 to 7 p.m., Mother Lode Fairgrounds barn area; $15 adults, $7 children 5 to 12, children under 5 free, 988-8932.