Tubbs building

The Napa County Fairgrounds is located at 1435 N. Oak St.

After managing the Napa County Fairgrounds for nearly 83 years, the Napa County Fair Association (NCFA) has restructured their organization to adapt to changing times and to continue to remain viable and relevant in serving the community.

This new chapter will include a new board, new vision, and exciting opportunities that support the county fairgrounds as a sacred, public gathering place for future generations.

There are several positive changes to this restructure. As of this week, the board has amended the Articles of Incorporation to open up opportunities for any adult resident of Napa County or areas serviced by a Napa County zip code to support, donate, or serve as a board member.

By becoming more accessible, NCFA hopes to recruit influencers interested in preserving their 80+ year tradition of celebrating Napa’s agricultural heritage. These changes will also allow for a newly appointed board of directors focused on fundraising and program development. With the right resources in place, NCFA is optimistic that it will be able to continue to host year round community events and activities that bring families together for years to come.

While the newly restructured NCFA plans to heavily focus on preserving the Napa County Fair and community events, much consideration has also been made to finding a long-term, sustaining solution to the infrastructure needs of the fairgrounds in Calistoga. For the past eight years, NCFA has worked diligently on strategic planning to preserve this beloved public asset. In 2016, this led to steering negotiations between the County and City to form a new governance structure that would have the capacity to care for the 70-acre property. As of Dec. 31, 2018, the property and facilities will no longer be NCFA’s responsibility.

In May, the County, which owns the fairgrounds, stated their intention to continue operations and assume management of the fairgrounds on Jan. 1, 2019.

And while NCFA has not been formally invited to do so, the future vision of the nonprofit charitable organization is to continue to support their successors. The association is hopeful that the new governing agency will invite them to continue to raise funds and resources to renovate and upgrade the facilities for the community’s benefit. It has been through the fair board’s determination, staff loyalty, and volunteer commitment that NCFA has been able to not only preserve, but enhance programs that include the County Fair & Fiesta, ENGAGE Art Fair, Star-Spangled Social, and Christmas Faire.

To date, what began as an endeavor to find sustainable solutions has resulted in a state of limbo for the organization and its employees. One difficult step in the restructure process was the recent issue of layoff notices. It was always the board’s plan to keep existing staff in place during the transition of governance. However, with the contract expiring in just weeks, the board felt it was important to give all 10 NCFA staff enough notice to secure new employment.

Despite the challenges, the board is just as committed today as they have been for the past 80+ years. The fairgrounds will host several holiday events and parties this season, resulting in a very busy RV Park. In fact, the RV Park is so popular that management has opened overflow dry camping to accommodate the demand for the Holiday Village & Christmas Faire weekend.

Currently, NCFA staff is in the throes of producing the 49th Annual Christmas Faire to be held the first Saturday in December. This treasured community event is free to the public and takes hundreds of volunteer hours to put on. Please consider signing up today at www.CelebrateNapaValley.org/ChristmasFaireVolunteer.

Earlier this year, the Fair Board made a promise to the community to deliver a quality golf course through the end of October. Not only did the course remain open, but the course conditions were significantly improved.

“We’re proud of the course conditions and are pleased to announce that we’ll be continuing operations through the end of the year with a modified schedule for the off-season,” said board chair Karan Schlegel in a statement. “We sincerely hope that the community continues to support the golf course while NCFA continues to manage it to the end of this year.”

The course will continue to operate through the end of the year with its new schedule, open Friday through Sunday, weather permitting, as “walking only,” and closed Monday through Thursday.

“Throughout our work, we have sought to create a stable, prudent, and fiscally responsible Association that can continue to serve well into the future. While we’re unsure what the new governance will entail, we’re still committed to our beloved county fair and fairgrounds,” Schlegel said.

For more information about volunteering, upcoming events, or the Napa County Fair Association, dba: Celebrate! Napa Valley, visit celebratenapavalley.org.

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