Buildings at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds are getting new names as part of sponsorship program to raise money for maintenance needs and upgrades to the facilities.

The John Muir building is now called the Tribes of Tuolumne building, while the Creekside building will be rechristened as the Blake Elliott Insurance building.

Both the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians and Chicken Ranch Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians of California are jointly sponsoring the Tribe of Tuolumne building, while the Tuolumne-based Blake Elliott Insurance Agency is sponsoring the other.

“They’re doing that as a way of giving back to the community,” said Ken Alstott, chief executive officer of the Mother Lode Fairgrounds.

Alstott said the sponsorships will provide over $23,400 in revenue combined over the next three years. He said he got the idea from working at fairgrounds throughout the state for more than a decade.

“This is done at a lot of fairgrounds across the state to generate revenue,” he said.

The Mother Lode Fairgrounds Board of Directors unanimously approved the program in January.

Alstott said the name changes were effective as of Monday, though there likely will be temporary banners placed over the current name plates for the four-day fair that begins on Thursday because there won’t be enough time to have professional ones made.

Both buildings got their current names in the 1990s, according to the book “History of the 29th District Agricultural Association, Mother Lode Fair,” by Joseph and Betty Sparagna.

The book stated the John Muir building, built in 1949, was originally called the Main Exhibit building, while the Creekside building went through several names changes over the years.

Alstott said he’s currently working to close a deal for sponsorship on the current Manzanita building, but is looking for an organization or group for the Sierra building.

All county fairs lost state funding years ago that used to make a sizeable chunk of their budgets due to the money being redirected by lawmakers for other uses.

State funding used to account for more than a third of the Mother Lode Fairgrounds’ annual operating budget, which is currently just under $500,000 a year.

The fairgrounds has received state grants and done fundraising in recent years to upkeep and improve the facilities, such as the restoration of the Manzanita building and putting new bathrooms in all of the buildings.

“This will continue to provide funding to keep upgrading the fairgrounds,” Alstott said of the sponsorship program.

This year’s annual Mother Lode Fair kicks off on Thursday and runs through Sunday. For more information on the fair, see Wednesday’s Union Democrat.

Contact Alex MacLean at or (209) 588-4530.