By SARA FAY
The Orange County Register
COSTA MESA – OC Fair officials announced their intent to submit a bid for the fairgrounds as a newly formed nonprofit organization, they told concessionaires and event promoters Friday.
About 70 fair vendors attended the question-and-answer meeting to discuss the proposed sale of the fairgrounds, event promoter Memory Bartlett said. Many who attended oppose the sale of the fairgrounds in the first place, Barlett said. “It was an entire united front. Everyone wanted the state to maintain control of it,” she said.
Thursday, 50 fair vendors protested outside of the fairgrounds to oppose the sale. But fair officials, representing the newly formed OC Fair and Event Center Foundation, are moving forward with a bid. Julie Vandermost, chairwoman of the OC Fair Board, said Friday’s meeting was meant to answer vendors’ questions and allow them to contribute to the nonprofit’s policies. Fair CEO Steve Beazley was also at the meeting.
“More than anything, today was about listening to concerns and taking suggestions, and engaging a group that is very important to us, the vendors, on an important level,” Beazley said. But because the organization is still in planning stages, not all the information was available, Beazley said. He said he hopes the vendors will come to support the nonprofit’s bid.
“I think it’s going to take more information, which we don’t have just yet because we’re just beginning our policy discussion,” Beazley said. “I’m committed to policy documents that are going to help the vendors. I hope they realize we have their best interests at heart.”
However, Bartlett said the atmosphere was hostile, and vendors walked away feeling their opinions were not heard.
“As they said, they’ve made up their minds and the train has left the station,” Bartlett said.